On October 7, 2023, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law two sweeping climate disclosure bills, Senate Bill 253 (“SB 253”), the Climate Corporate Data Accountability Act, and Senate BillContinue Reading Change is in the Air: Everything You Need to Know About California’s Sweeping New Climate Disclosure Laws
New York’s rent stabilization laws, amended in 2019, are arguably the most stringent in the country. Challenges to New York’s rent regulations are not new, and come from both sides of the aisle, tenants and landlords alike. But unlike prior changes, the 2019 amendments hit a chord with New York City landlords who had, generally, made quite expensive investments in residential properties based on projected rent increases commensurate with rising costs and market demand. In 2019, with the passing of these amendments to New York’s rent stabilization laws, landlords’ projected assumptions and operating budgets went completely out the window along with their wallets.Continue Reading New York’s Rent Stabilization Laws Are Here to Stay, For Now At Least…
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
The City of Los Angeles’s Planning Department is proposing an expansion to the City’s innovative adaptive reuse policies. Specifically, the City is proposing to amend Sections 12.03, 12.22 A.26, 12.24 X and 16.05 of the Los Angeles Municipal Code (LAMC) and Adaptive Reuse Incentive Areas Specific Plan (Ordinance No. 175,038) in an attempt to reshape the Los Angeles cityscape from 2023 to 2025 by converting vacant commercial spaces into dwelling units, guest rooms or joint living and work quarters (“Citywide Adaptive Reuse Ordinance”). The amendment is intended to facilitate the reuse of existing buildings to address the City’s housing crisis and revitalize Downtown Los Angeles. The conversion of vacant office space will provide a sustainable response to urban development challenges and impacts of the COVID pandemic on the real estate market.Continue Reading Los Angeles Citywide Adaptive Reuse Ordinance: A Push Towards Sustainable Housing
On July 6, 2023, Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass signed into law a provision to exempt certain affordable housing projects from the city’s Site Plan Review Process. The exemption was made as an amendment to Site Plan Review Ordinance, codifying part of Mayor Bass’ Executive Directive 1, which intends to address the city’s homelessness crisis by accelerating the pace and lowering the cost of building affordable housing.Continue Reading Los Angeles Mayor Signs New Legislation Exempting Affordable Housing Projects from Site Plan Review
On July 10, 2023, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law a package of bills intended to accelerate critical infrastructure projects across the State aimed at achieving monumental climate and clean energy goals while also creating up to 400,000 jobs. With the goal of “building more, faster,” this infrastructure streamlining package will take effect immediately, and includes portions of Newsom’s previously proposed infrastructure package reforming the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).Continue Reading Build More, Faster? Newsom Signs Infrastructure and Budget Legislation
Recent amendments to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which Congress included in the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023 (FRA), aim to streamline federal environmental review by imposing time limits, clarifying the scope of review and agencies’ roles, and narrowing some key definitions. Most of the amendments simply codify regulatory definitions or agency practices already in effect, so the practical impact of the changes is likely to be limited. Nonetheless, the amendment of NEPA is noteworthy in its own right and could signal a new willingness in Congress to address a process often seen as cumbersome and prone to delay.Continue Reading NEPA Amendments Aim To Streamline Environmental Review But Largely Codify the Status Quo
In the City of Los Angeles, the “Homelessness and Housing Solutions Tax” (Measure ULA), commonly referred to as the “mansion tax,” went into effect on all qualifying real property transfers on April 1, 2023. Prior to Measure ULA, all real estate transfers in the City were subject to a City transfer tax of 0.45% and a County of Los Angeles transfer tax of 0.11%. Under Measure ULA, residential and commercial real property sales and transfers valued at or over $5 million, but less than $10 million, are subject to an additional tax of 4%. Sales and transfers valued at or over $10 million are subject to an additional tax of 5.5%. The Los Angeles Times noted that, based on the Multiple Listing Service, in March 2023 there were 126 homes and condominiums listed over $5 million in the City and in April, there were only two. Understandably so, in anticipation of Measure ULA, owners and developers rushed to try to close escrow prior to the April 1st effective date.Continue Reading Measure ULA May Not Measure Up
On May 19, 2023, California Governor Gavin Newsom proposed a legislative package of 10 bills reforming the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) intended to speed up construction of clean energy projects by streamlining regulations for solar, wind, and battery storage projects, transit and regional rail infrastructure projects, water storage projects, and the Delta Tunnel plan. The proposed measures were designed as mechanisms to accelerate such projects to completion in order to maximize California’s share of federal infrastructure dollars available through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and expedite the implementation of projects that meet the state’s ambitious economic, climate, and social goals.Continue Reading CEQA Reforms for Clean Energy Projects: Still Possible Despite Senate Budget Committee Rejection?
More than 3 years ago, the State legislature adopted the Tenant Protection Act of 2019, commonly referred to as Assembly Bill (“AB”) 1482, which – among other things – generally prohibits landlords from terminating residential tenancies in the absence of “just cause.” While AB 1482 created strong tenant protections, those protections were not applicable in the City of San Diego due to the City’s own “just cause” eviction ordinance. The City ordinance, which was adopted in 2004, was considerably weaker than AB 1482, but nevertheless took precedent over the State statute. All this is about to change, however. The City is presently poised to adopt the “Residential Tenant Protections Ordinance to Prevent Displacement and Homelessness” (“SD Tenant Protection Ordinance”).
As cities across California grapple with an ongoing housing crisis and stubbornly high office vacancy rates, policymakers at the state and local levels are beginning to explore ways to encourage projects that convert vacant office space into housing. Downtown San Francisco has experienced particularly high office vacancy rates as it recovers from the pandemic, and it is unsurprising that two of the City’s political leaders—Assemblymember Matt Haney and Mayor London Breed—recently took steps to facilitate office-to-residential conversions.Continue Reading Momentum for Streamlining and Subsidizing Office-to-Residential Conversion Projects Builds in Sacramento and San Francisco