June 2019 Legislative Update

Sponsored Bills

SB 25 (Caballero), our CEQA judicial streamlining bill, made it through  two very difficult committee hearings. SB 25 passed out of the Senate on May 23rd with 28 votes. On June 26th it passed out of the Assembly Labor and Employment Committee. It is now going to Assembly Natural Resources Committee before heading to the Assembly Floor for a full vote. We continue to work with stakeholders to ensure that we address all concerns.

AB 587 (Friedman), this is our Accessory Dwelling Unit bill, which would allow the separate sale of an ADU from the primary dwelling if a tenants in common agreement is in place. This bill has received bi-partisan unanimous support in the Assembly. It passed the Senate Housing Committee on the consent calendar on June 4th  and passed out of the Senate Governance and Finance Committee on June 19th and is now on the Senate Floor.

Supported Bills

AB 68 (Ting): This bill would reduce  barriers to building ADUs throughout the state is now in the Senate and has been triple referred to the Senate Committees on Housing, Environmental Quality, and Governance and Finance. It passed out of Senate Housing and will be heard in Senate Environmental Quality Committee on July 3rd before going to the Governance and Finance Committee.

AB 69 (Ting): would require the Department of Housing and Community Development to create building standards for small homes to establish consistency and guidelines throughout the state. It passed the Senate Housing Committee on June 13th and is now on its way to Senate Appropriations Committee.

AB 831 (Grayson): Adds reporting requirements to the HCD report due June 30th 2019. Requirements include posting the results of its current study to evaluate the reasonableness of local fees charged to new developments on its internet website on or before March 1, 2020 and that HCD issue a report to the Legislature on the progress of cities and counties in adopting the recommendations made by HCD’s study to evaluate the reasonableness of local fees by January 1st, 2024. This bill is in Senate Rules as they wait for the HCD study at which point it will be referred to committee.

AB 1483 (Grayson): Requires cities and counties to compile all fees  under the Mitigation Fee Act and all taxes and property assessments associated with housing development projects and make those reports public on their website. This bill will be heard in Senate Housing Committee on July 2nd.

AB 1486 (Ting): Clarifies and strengthens provisions in the Surplus Land Act that will promote the use of public land for affordable housing. This bill passed Senate Governance and Finance Committee on June 26th. It heads next to the Senate Housing Committee on July 2nd.

SB 6 (Beall): This bill requires the Department of General Services (DGS), in coordination with the Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD), to create a database of state and local surplus lands available for residential development. It is in the Assembly and passed the Assembly Committees on Housing and Community Development on June 19th. It will be heard next in Assembly Accountability and Administrative Review Committee on July 3rd.

SB 196 (Beall): This bill enacts a new welfare exemption from property tax for property owned by a community land trust. It will be heard in the Assembly Revenue and Tax Committee on July 1st.


Governor Signs Budget

Today, June 27th, the Governor signed the 2019-2020 budget. A major component of the deal focuses on housing affordability. The high cost of housing is a critical concern for people across California. In order to increase housing supply, the agreement makes an investment to accelerate the production of new housing, and supports local governments to meet their required housing goals

The Budget invests $1.75 billion in the production and planning of new housing. It includes support to local governments to increase housing production

As part of the deal, the Governor has taken measures to hold local jurisdictions accountable to meet housing demand – it would empower California to fine cities that are consistently out of compliance with housing targets but not include Governor Newsom’s original plan to punish wayward jurisdictions by revoking transportation funds.

With soaring housing prices and a dearth of affordable homes dominating the political agenda, Newsom has pushed a more assertive state role that includes rewarding cities and counties that plan for and build enough and penalizing those that don’t. His administration sued the city of Huntington Beach, and he has called for tying road repair funds to housing goals.

That proposed linkage angered local governments, who called it inappropriate. Rather than threaten jurisdictions by revoking transit funds, the deal would allow the state to impose fines between $10,000 and $100,000 on places that are sued by the California Department of Justice for failing to meet their required plans to set aside land for housing at all income levels.

Meanwhile, cities that plan —and actually build — would be rewarded. The legislative agreement is aimed at supporting “housing-friendly cities,” and penalizing cities that “willfully violate the Housing Element laws,”

Should cities continuously “over time” fail to zone for their housing needs at every income level, from extremely low-income to market-rate, courts would get involved, the source said. Under the deal, California courts would play a new role in the state’s homebuilding push. Cities found to be in violation of housing laws could see a court-appointed agent “take over duties of local government,” the source said.

Cities that site and build more housing would have more state discretionary money available to them in the form of local housing grants. The money would be divvied up, and cities that are more aggressive in building would be rewarded with more competitive housing dollars.

On homelessness funding, cities, counties and local “continuums of care,” local agencies charged with addressing homelessness, would all receive money.

The budget includes $1.75 billion to support housing production. Newsom, who pledged as a candidate to build 3.5 million new homes in California by 2025, said this week that he has no preference on how the money is spent.

The budget also includes $1 billion for cities and counties to address problems with rising homelessness. They can experiment with different emergency housing and shelter models, from tiny homes to motel conversions to large emergency “navigation” centers, where homeless people can access housing, job placement, health care and substance abuse services.

Of the $1 billion in homelessness funding, $650 million is available for emergency homelessness aid. That money would be split as follows: $275 million for the so-called “Big 13” cities, which include Los Angeles, San Francisco and Sacramento; counties would get $175 million; and local homeless agencies would get $190 million.

To assist renters, the Budget includes $20 million to provide legal aid for renters and assist with landlord-tenant disputes, including legal assistance for counseling, renter education programs, and preventing evictions

Despite this deal designed to spur homebuilding and combat homelessness, some Bay Area lawmakers say that it doesn’t go far enough and are calling for a special session

Sen. Jim Beall (D-San Jose) is urging Newsom to call a special legislative session to address the statewide housing crisis. He believes it’s warranted, especially given double-digit percentage increases in homelessness across California.

Newsom has referred to homelessness in California as a “national disgrace” and a “crisis” that state leaders have not dedicated adequate attention to. He sees his budget and the creation of a homelessness task force as major investments in tackling the issue.

“What I want is for the Legislature and the governor to work together to fix the housing crisis, to fix our broken system and legalize more housing, to make it easier and faster to build and to protect renters and to fund affordable housing. If it takes a special session to accomplish that, then I’m all for a special session,” state Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco).

Wiener is the author of SB 50, which died earlier this year in Senate Appropriations Committee in the face of opposition from some local governments and advocates for low-income residents. A special session would allow him to reintroduce the bill this year.

The death of SB 50 spurred discussions about a special session between some lawmakers and Newsom officials.

Wiener suggested a special session would be fruitless if Newsom and lawmakers don’t agree to tackle thorny land use issues that can divide cities and incite widespread opposition, including from the League of California Cities, the California State Association of Counties and other powerful groups concerned about losing local control.

“If there is an opportunity to move [SB 50] forward earlier, we will certainly do that, but absent something happening, we will be ready to move forward in January,” Wiener said.

Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins has faced strong backlash from pro-growth housing activists who blamed her for allowing SB 50 to die. They are pressuring Atkins and other California lawmakers to back SB 50 or similar legislation that would ease local zoning restrictions around job and transit centers to increase denser housing development at all income levels.