Starting the year off, I like to look at the new California laws taking effect. Like in 2021, many of the new laws are focused on housing. I will highlight what to expect.
End of the single-family zoning
In 2021 news headlines and my previous column, I discussed Senate Bill (SB) 9 and SB10 and how these laws affect zoning density.
SB9 allows for the homeowner of a single-family home to add additional units. SB10 allows for local agencies to choose to adopt an ordinance to allow up to ten units on any parcel within a transit-rich urban infill site.
Further clearing up discrepancies, SB 290 amends the State Density Bonus Law (SDBL), a 2018 law widely used to increase housing density and production.
This law clarifies calculating the bonus, allows for easier approval related to physical constraints, and revises the parking requirements.
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More ownership options are created by SB 728, which allows for an SDBL development to be purchased by either a qualified person or family or by a qualified nonprofit housing organization.
The minimum Floor-Area-Coverage (FAR) standard is addressed in SB 478. This law prohibits agencies from imposing a FAR less than 1.0 for a housing development project of up to seven units and 1.25 for eight or more.
Additionally, an agency may not deny a housing development project based solely on the fact it does not meet the FAR requirements of the site.
Finally, Assembly Bill (AB) 345 allows for an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) after certain conditions are met. The bill also provides for the ADU to be conveyed separately from the primary residence before the agency implements an ordinance allowing for such reconveyance.
Streamlining the approval process
Three bills allow for the streamlining of the approval process for housing developments. SB 8 extends the Housing Crisis Act (HCA) of 2019, which limits an agency’s ability to prolong the housing approval process, future-proof vesting rights by applicants for changes in local ordinances, limits an agency’s ability to impose moratoriums or caps, and requires developers who demolish existing housing provide interim housing.
AB 1174 reforms bill SB 35 to further streamline the approval process for residential development by addressing modifications to a project after the SB 35 permit is issued, allowing for the permit to remain active during extended delays and comply with earlier requirements.
If a city cannot identify sufficient sites to meet regional housing by adopting a housing element, the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) has found to be in substantial compliance with state law AB 1398 requires the city to rezone appropriate sites within one year of the deadline.
In part 2, we will address unenforceable covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs), equity, fair housing and below market rate (BMR) housing, city housing element plan, cost of housing production, surplus lands, student and intergenerational housing planning, and California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) exemptions.
Burt M. Polson is the CEO of ACRESinfo.com, a commercial real estate brokerage company, and CEO of StoneMarkerInvestments.com, a private equity real estate fund. Call him at (707) 254-8000 or email email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.
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