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
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
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”).
Last week the Office of the Attorney General demonstrated the State of California’s unwillingness to cede its enforcement of state housing laws even in the face of defiance from local governments. On April 10, in People of California v. City of Huntington Beach (OCSC, Case No. 30-2023-01312235-CU-WM-CJC), Attorney General Rob Bonta filed a Motion to Amend its Petition For Writ of Mandate and Complaint For Declaratory and Injunctive Relief (Motion to Amend), which included the proposed First Amended Petition (Amended Petition), after the City of Huntington Beach (City), again, failed to adopt its sixth cycle update to its Housing Element (6th Cycle) on April 4, 2023 – more than 16 months after the statutory deadline – in violation of the state Housing Element Law (Govt Code. § 65580 et seq.). Continue Reading California City Flouts Housing Laws, Inviting State Scrutiny