MidPen Housing applauds Governor Gavin Newsom and legislative leaders for a robust package of 56 housing reform bills that the Governor signed into law last week, many with a focus on streamlining the production of affordable homes in communities across the state. Three of the bills were among MidPen Housing’s legislative priorities this year:
- SB 423 by Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco): Extends SB 35 streamlining approvals for another ten years while improving the law’s labor standards and allowing the Coastal Zone to access the benefits. SB 35 has been a game changer for affordable housing–saving time and money. MidPen has used SB 35 on four developments in Petaluma, Santa Rosa, San Francisco, and San Jose.
- AB 1449 by Assemblymember David Alvarez (D-San Diego): Extends new California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) exemptions to a range of 100% affordable housing project approvals. This will significantly boost the use of exemptions as more developments will qualify, laying out a clear path to access powerful streamlining tools that speed up production of new affordable homes.
- SB 4 by Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco): Colloquially known as Yes In God’s Backyard (YIGBY), which allows a religious institution or independent institution of higher education to build a housing development project on their property “by right.”
“We commend Governor Newsom and our committed representatives in the California Legislature for their leadership in advancing solutions,” said Matthew O. Franklin, President and CEO of MidPen Housing. “With these new laws, the State will expedite thousands of affordable homes and create new jobs, in collaboration with our local government partners.”
In a big win for housing, MidPen Housing applauds the Legislature’s approval of ACA 1 (Aguiar-Curry), a proposed amendment to the California Constitution that will appear on the November 2024 ballot. ACA 1 would lower the voter-approval threshold from two-thirds to 55% for critical infrastructure like affordable housing. If passed, it will support the passage of a Regional Bond Measure and unlock the construction of up to 45,000 affordable homes serving over 500,000 Bay Area residents over the coming decades.
Another bill, AB 1085 (Maienschein), which would have expanded Medi-Cal benefits, was not signed into law this year. “This approach would provide new resources, better care, and more equitable access to our community members who are experiencing homelessness,” said Franklin. “Housing support services go hand in hand with housing to prevent homelessness, and we urge Governor Newsom and the Department of Health Care Services to bring this solution to vulnerable Californians next year.”
Other bills of note within Governor Newsom’s housing package include:
- AB 84 (Ward): Improves access to the welfare exemption for affordable housing.
- AB 346 (Quirk-Silva): Allows TCAC to reallocate some of the state’s enhanced $500 million in LIHTC from 4% projects to 9% projects.
- AB 480 (Ting): Strengthening Key Provisions in the Surplus Land Act.
- AB 1307 (Wicks): Reverses a recent state court decision by clarifying that the sound of residents’ voices cannot be considered an environmental impact under CEQA.
- AB 1319 (Wicks): Modifications to the Bay Area Housing Authority.
- AB 1633 (Ting): Settles state law regarding what happens when a local government requires a CEQA analysis beyond what the courts consider sufficient.
- SB 439 (Skinner): Provides courts with a new special motion to dismiss frivolous lawsuits seeking to halt 100% affordable housing developments—including but not limited to suits brought under state environmental laws.
- SB 469 (Allen): Exempts Tax Credit and Certain State funded deals from Article 34
For full text of the bills, visit: http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov. To learn more about MidPen Housing’s legislative priorities, visit: https://www.midpen-housing.org/what-we-do/legislative-priorities/