To address the housing crisis in California, Senate Bill 684 (SB 684), passed in 2023 but effective as of July 1, 2024, aims to simplify the approval process for small-scale for-sale housing projects, facilitate a quicker development process, and help to alleviate the state’s housing shortage. Specifically, SB 684 mandates local agencies to ministerially approve proposed subdivisions for housing projects that result in 10 or fewer parcels, provided they meet specific criteria.[1] Applications for up to 10 units as part of a housing development on lots subdivided using this process and for building permits for construction of the units are also ministerial.[2] This streamlined, CEQA-exempt approval process applies to tract maps on lots zoned for multifamily residential development, no larger than 5 acres, substantially surrounded by qualified urban uses[3] and “infill” sites.Continue Reading Big Streamlining for Small Subdivision Developers

Until recently, local policies on homelessness have been guided by two controversial rulings from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals: Martin v. Boise (9th Cir. 2019) 920 F.3d 584 and Johnson v. City of Grants Pass (9th Cir. 2022) 50 F.4th 787.[1] However, the Supreme Court’s decision in City of Grants Pass v. Johnson (2024) 603 U.S. ____, is likely to transform local jurisdictions’ policy approaches to managing homelessness. In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court upheld the city’s ban on camping and parking overnight on public property.Continue Reading Supreme Court Holds That the Eighth Amendment Does Not Prevent Enforcement of Local Camping Bans, Authorizing a Significant Shift in Local Policies on Homelessness

New York City’s rent-related laws have once again survived judicial scrutiny, and evaded Supreme Court review. In 74 Pinehurst LLC v. New York, a group of New York City landlords (“Petitioners”) filed suit in the District Court for the Eastern District of New York against the City and State of New York, the State Division of Housing and Community Renewal, New York City’s Rent Guidelines Board, and multiple state and New York City officials (“Respondents”), seeking a declaration that New York City’s Rent Stabilization Law, as amended in 2019 (“RSL”), violates the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution. Respondents moved to dismiss, which the Eastern District Court granted. On appeal, the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed the motion to dismiss, and on February 20, 2024, the Supreme Court denied Petitioners’ petition for certiorari, declining to review the RSL.Continue Reading SCOTUS Declines to Review New York City’s Rent Stabilization Law

Brooke Miller and Shannon Mandich’s article “Adapting Underutilized Commercial Spaces for Residential Redevelopment: New Tools and Challenges” was recently featured in the NAIOP Commercial Real Estate Development Magazine Spring 2024 Issue. The article discusses the tools and challenges of adopting underutilized commercial spaces for residential redevelopment. This article sheds light on the pros and cons of adaptive reuse and California’s support of adaptive reuse through various California state laws such as Senate Bill 6, the Middle Class Housing Act of 2022, Assembly Bill 2011, and the Affordable Housing and High Road Jobs Act of 2022.Continue Reading Adapting Underutilized Commercial Spaces for Residential Redevelopment: New Tools and Challenges

According to the Public Policy Institute of California, a non-profit, non-partisan think tank, California is facing a jaw-dropping 3.5 million unit housing deficient for the current population. This despite several legislative sessions enacting a large number of bills aimed at boosting housing production. 2023 was no different. During its first year of the current 2-year legislative cycle, Governor Newsom signed an unprecedented 56 housing bills into law, reflecting the California Legislature’s continued effort to respond to the housing crisis, and the multi-dimensional approach to developing, retaining, and permitting housing options for Californians. In sum, the housing bills intend to incentivize and reduce barriers to housing production, especially “affordable” or below-market rate housing by addressing previously-identified hurdles in the market. To do so, some bills include further expansion of State Density Bonus Law, including Senate Bill (SB) 423’s extension of the sunset date in 2017’s SB 35. The package also includes bills aimed to keep tenants in their existing homes and reflects the state’s desire to limit local governments’ ability to deny housing projects.Continue Reading California Continues Trend of Pushing Housing Legislation to Address Ongoing Housing Shortage

Following California Supreme Court and its own case law precedent, the Second District, Division Five, has ruled in Guerrero et al. v. City of Los Angeles (Jan. 17, 2024) (Guerrero), certified for publication, that a CEQA challenge to approval of a vesting tentative subdivision map conditioned on subsequent discretionary rezoning was untimely when not filed until after the rezoning was finally approved.Continue Reading Conditional Approval is Project Approval: Appellate Court Confirms CEQA Statute of Limitations Triggered by Tentative Map Approval Conditioned on Subsequent Rezoning

It is no secret that New York City continues to face an affordable housing crisis. Many experts believe this boils down to a supply problem, yet others remain skeptical. However, a recent Furman Center publication addressed supply skepticism head on, finding that adding new homes moderates price increases making housing more affordable to low- and moderate-income families, but that government intervention is still critical to securing housing affordability. Despite this and other compelling research findings, the State legislature failed to renew the 421a tax exemption in 2023. This, coupled with rising construction costs, resulted in a continuous decline in new building permits lasting into the last quarter of 2023. The City, however, has taken initiative in the face of this crisis: just 5 days before the new year, the City’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development (“HPD”) announced Mixed-Income Market Initiative (“MIMI”), a new program aimed at building affordable and mixed income homes across the City during a time when State (and Federal) resources are scarce.Continue Reading Mixed-Income Market Initiative: NYC’s Attempt to Spur Affordable Housing Development

Local ordinances prohibiting camping or sleeping outdoors have created widespread controversy. Affected cities and states contend that the two Ninth Circuit rulings on the issue are confusing and preclude them from implementing effective strategies to address homelessness, while homeless advocates argue that these decisions are necessary to prevent criminalization of involuntary homelessness. However, there is potential clarity on the horizon as the Supreme Court is poised to decide whether to hear the case next term.Continue Reading Supreme Court Weighs Whether to Clarify Camping Bans and Homelessness Policies

In it’s recent decision in United Neighborhoods for Los Angeles v. City of Los Angeles (2023) ___ Cal.App.5th ___, the Second District Court of Appeal affirmed a judgment voiding the City of Los Angeles’s reliance on the CEQA Class 32 Infill Exemption for a hotel project in Hollywood that would demolish 40 rent-stabilized units (RSO). In upholding the trial court decision, the appellate court emphasized the City’s failure to adequately assess the Project’s consistency with all applicable general plan policies, as required by CEQA Guidelines section 15332(a).Continue Reading Second District Addresses CEQA’s Class 32 Infill Exemption Criteria

In the ever-evolving landscape of residential real estate, California is once again at the forefront with the passage of Assembly Bill (AB) 1837 and AB 2170, which became effective on January 1, 2023. Aimed at increasing homeownership for individual residents, these laws build upon the groundwork laid by Senate Bill (SB) 1079 in 2020, which required institutions to sell foreclosed homes individually instead of in bundles, in an effort to create more affordable housing and community stability by limiting when investors can purchase foreclosed homes. The new law, codified in California Civil Code section 2923 et seq., extends SB 1079’s protections until January 1, 2031.Continue Reading Navigating California’s New Foreclosure Laws: A Guide for Institutions