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Plenty of Housing Bills Are Still in Play

Illustrator Alfred Twu made a galiant effort to summarize some of the many bills that have been introduced this session.

Senator Scott Wiener's S.B. 50, the bill that would have allowed denser housing to be built near transit, has been put on ice for now, but it was only one housing bill among many. Over 200 housing bills had been introduced during this legislative session, and there are still enough of those moving through the process to produce confusion on the part of hapless reporters who might be trying to keep track.

Edie Irons at TransForm, an advocacy organization in Oakland working to create sustainable communities, points out that the CASA compact--the Committee to House the Bay Area, convened in summer 2017 to find ways to protect tenants, preserve existing affordable homes, and produce more homes of all types--has supported fourteen housing-related bills, and thirteen of those are still alive. She offers a summary of a few of them here.

All of these bills must pass out of whichever legislative house they were born in before Friday.

Renter Protections

Two bills on renter protections are still awaiting votes on the Assembly floor. A.B. 1481 from Rob Bonta (D-Oakland) would impose a requirement that landlords show just cause before they can evict renters--you thought that was already the case? Not everywhere in the state.

And A.B. 1482 from David Chiu (D-San Francisco) would impose a "reasonable cap" on annual rent increases to allow landlords to make some money but restricting greedy rent gouging, just a bit.

S.B. 18 from Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), set out to create a grant program to provide rental assistance and legal aid for tenants in California, but that provision was stripped out by Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada-Flintridge), chair of the Appropriations committee, before he would allow it to be voted on. Yes, that is the same Portantino who refused to allow a vote on S.B. 50 in his committee. S.B. 18 now would merely indefinitely extend existing minimal protections for tenants living in properties going through foreclosure proceedings. The bill passed the Senate floor today, and heads to the Assembly.

Meanwhile Governor Newsom has called for $20 million for legal aid for renters in his state budget, which is the subject of current negotiations among the Senate, the Assembly, and the Governor's Office. Senator Skinner plans to push for some money to be included for rental assistance as well, since all of that was removed from her bill.

Removing Barriers to Building Housing

Skinner also authored a Permit Streamlining Act. Her S.B. 330 is still on the Senate floor, awaiting a vote. The bill would speed up housing permits at the local level and prevent local jurisdictions from imposing onerous conditions on housing to slow down the process.

A.B. 1486 from Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) would make it easier to develop affordable housing on under-utilized public land. And A.B. 1279 from Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica) would identify "high-resource" areas that show patterns of exclusion and encourage the production of affordable housing there, as a way to prevent displacement where cheaper housing already exists as well as force those areas that can afford it to accommodate people who desperately need housing. Both of those bills are still waiting for a vote on the Assembly floor.

Granny Flats, or ADUs

Assemblymember Ting also has two bills, A.B. 68 and A.B. 69, to further ease restrictions on and reduce the cost of building granny flats, a.k.a. Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), which can increase density without major zoning changes while increasing relatively affordable housing. Both of those bills have moved on to the Senate.

And S.B. 13 from Senator Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont) would revise some of the requirements for ADUs to make them easier to build, and prevent a local city from imposing parking requirements if it is built close to transit, among other things. Senator Wieckowski's bill has passed the Senate.

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