Affordable Housing and Leveraging New State Laws

Most people, including our local government cite burdensome regulations and lengthy approval processes as a problem limiting housing growth. Historically, this has been true but three measures passed by the state in 2017 aims to ease some of those rules. Senate Bill 35 requires cities to approve projects that comply with existing zoning if not enough housing has been built to keep pace with their state home-building targets.

According to the LA Times in an article on the housing bills that passed, “Assembly Bill 73 and Senate Bill 540 give cities an incentive to plan neighborhoods for new development. Under AB 73, a city receives money when it designates a particular community for more housing and then additional dollars once it starts issuing permits for new homes. In these neighborhoods, at least 20% of the housing must be reserved for low- or middle-income residents, and projects will have to be granted permits without delay if they meet zoning standards.

SB 540 authorizes a state grant or loan for a local government to do planning and environmental reviews to cover a particular neighborhood. Developers in the designated community also will have to reserve a certain percentage of homes for low- and middle-income residents and the city’s approvals there would be approved without delay.

Money to implement both laws could come from the new real estate transaction fee and the bond.”

Some of the bills that just passed incentivize developers to build more low-income housing. Usually, when developers agree to build low-income apartments, the agreement lasts a certain time, often between 30 and 50 years and the agreements aren’t always project-based. So one development could be McMansions and another, across town, low-income housing. I think all new projects should integrate affordable housing as a percentage of the project and SB1505 incentivizes that.

If our local government is willing to take a look at some of these new measures, we might be able to find solutions to our affordable housing crisis sooner rather than later. If elected, I plan to use all of the tools available in order to curb our community’s affordable housing crisis.