In response to developers’ continued cry for meaningful reform, changes to or exemptions from the California Environmental Quality Act (Pub. Res. Code §§ 21000 et seq.) (CEQA) are often included in numerous bills during any California legislative session. 2022 proved to be no exception. While many bills suffered slow deaths in committee, a handful successfully made it to the Governor’s desk and were signed into law. Continue Reading 2022 CEQA Legislative Recap
Alison G. Martinez is an associate in the Real Estate, Energy, Land Use & Environmental Practice Group in the firm's Los Angeles Office.
Governor Gavin Newsom recently signed into law Senate Bill (SB) 7, the “Housing + Jobs Expansion & Extension Act”, which extends and expands California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) streamlining provisions. As previously discussed in our February blog post, “California Senate Returns Its Focus to Housing in 2021-2022 Legislative Session,” SB 7 is the first bill from the Senate’s “Building Opportunities for All” housing package to be signed and enacted this year. SB 7 extends through 2025 the streamlined CEQA administrative and judicial review procedures developed for Environmental Leadership Development Projects (ELDPs) under Assembly Bill (AB) 900 in 2011. AB 900 established a process to expedite legal challenges for large housing, clean energy, and manufacturing projects with a capital investment of at least $100 million. In an effort to increase housing and job opportunities in California, SB 7 expands streamlining eligibility to smaller affordable housing projects. Specifically, housing projects on infill sites with an investment between $15-$100 million that meet specified labor and environmental standards and include at least 15 percent affordable housing are now eligible under SB 7. SB 7 also clarifies that the deadline to resolve legal challenges to ELDPs under the expedited judicial review process is 270 days from the filing of the certified record of proceedings, including appeals to the court of appeal and the Supreme Court.
Continue Reading Senate Bill Extends and Expands CEQA Streamlining Process
The new 2021-2022 California legislative session has kicked off with the Senate’s “Building Opportunities for All” housing package, its latest effort to tackle zoning and California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”) reforms in an effort to address California’s ongoing housing crisis. “Each one of these bills is targeted at an element of the housing crisis, and together, they give us a unified approach that would create pathways to home ownership, stable housing for vulnerable families, and a pathway to economic stability for Californians across the golden state,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins when announcing the housing package. As anticipated in our summary of new legislation effective in 2021, this housing package builds upon the housing production bills from the previous legislative session that failed to pass out of committee or gain concurrence votes before the session ended. Given that many of the bills replicate language from the failed 2020 housing legislation, the senators appear confident that more of these bills will be approved in this new session.
Continue Reading California Senate Returns Its Focus to Housing in 2021-2022 Legislative Session
MAY 8, 2020 – UPDATE: The final version of the New Ordinance has been signed by Mayor Gracetti and takes effect May 12, 2020.
California Senate Bill (“SB”) 899, introduced in March by Senator Scott Wiener and currently in the Senate Housing, Environmental Quality, and Governance and Finance Committees, would exempt eligible affordable housing projects and mixed use projects on property owned by religious institutions and nonprofit medical facilities from review under the California Environmental Quality Act (Pub. Res. Code § 21000 et seq.) (“CEQA”) and provide for other permit streamlining. Eligible entities include nonprofit hospitals, diagnostic or treatment centers, rehabilitation facilities, and nursing homes, as well as religious institutions. As Senator Wiener noted, “religious and charitable institutions often have land to spare, and they should be able to use that land to build affordable housing and thus further their mission. SB 899 ensures that affordable housing can be built and removes local zoning and approval obstacles in order to do so.” These eligible organizations may partner with a qualified nonprofit developer or local public entity to construct the affordable housing developments.
Continue Reading Proposed Legislation Aims to Boost Affordable Housing on Land Owned by Religious Institutions and Nonprofit Hospitals
In Tanimura & Antle Fresh Foods, Inc. v. Salinas Union High School District, the Sixth District Court of Appeal considered whether the Salinas Union High School District (“District”) acted reasonably in imposing a school impact fee on a new 100-unit residential development intended to only house adult seasonal farmworkers without dependents (the “Project”) employed by Tanimura & Antle Fresh Foods (“T&A”). After reviewing the relevant statutory schemes, the Legislature’s intent, and the District’s evidence for imposing the fee, the court found that the District properly determined a reasonable relationship existed between the fee and the new residential construction, even though the development would not generate any new students. Therefore, the District did not act arbitrarily by imposing the fee on the Project. In holding so, the court reversed the trial court judgment.
This decision reinforces the concept that, while school districts must demonstrate a nexus – or reasonable relationship – between development fees and the type of development, such as residential units, they generally are not required to evaluate the ultimate user of a particular development project before imposing district-wide fees on a developer. This ruling will likely have direct repercussions to a developer’s proforma in today’s marketplace, were both developers and local governments are implementing creative strategies for addressing certain housing shortages – such as the provision of specific workforce housing.
Continue Reading No Students? No Problem, Developer Still Pays