State senators took a swing at addressing California’s housing shortageThursday, approving a series of bills addressing different aspects of the approval process.
One of the most watched ones, Senate Bill 35, passed on a 17-5 vote, sending it to the state Assembly for consideration. The bill by Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, would allow developers to pursue a streamlined approval for multifamily affordable housing projects in jurisdictions not meeting their requirements for such projects in the state’s housing element.
Wiener said the bill wouldn’t affect local zoning and would be “opt in” for developers rather than required. Language in the bill states such projects would not require a conditional-use permit from the local jurisdiction.
“This is no longer just a San Francisco, Berkeley, Santa Monica, West Los Angeles, problem,” Wiener said, pointing out a lack of housing is now affecting cities and counties statewide. “This bill still retains significant local control.”
The bill’s future prospects aren’t clear, though Gov. Jerry Brown said last monthhe wanted to see more progress on reducing red tape for housing approvals before spending more state money directly on building housing.
That could be ominous for another bill approved Thursday, a state affordable housing bond of $3 billion. If passed by the Legislature and approved by the governor, the bond would go before state voters in November 2018. A Republican state senator from Temecula, Jeff Stone, said during the session he believes the governor will veto such bills because they add too much to the state’s debt pile.
State senators approved three other housing-related bills on Thursday, the day before a deadline for bills to pass their “house of origin.”
Those three bills, mostly approved by significant majorities, would either limit ways in which jurisdictions could reject affordable housing projects or would create new mechanisms for allowing them.