Regional Housing Needs Allocation Reform Bill on Gov. Brown's Desk

The lone survivor of Sen. Scott Wiener's trio of "Housing-First Policy" bills awaits a decision by Gov. Jerry Brown. Senate Bill 828, intended to increase the amount of land zoned for housing in California cities, was weakened by amendments.

2 minute read

September 25, 2018, 8:00 AM PDT

By Irvin Dawid

California State Capital

cmshepard / Shutterstock

Senate Bill 828: Housing element, authored by state Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), was intended to ensure that housing construction in cities and counties kept pace with population growth by making changes to the controversial state housing needs allocation process.

In 2016, only 13 local jurisdictions among the state's 540 cities and counties met their state-mandated Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) requirement. See Sen. Wiener's "Fixing RHNA" fact sheet [Google.doc.]

SB 828 is the middle bill in the Wiener's aggressive 'Housing-First Policy' trio, introduced in January with SB 827: transit rich housing bonus, and SB 829: farmworker housing, and it is the lone survivor, so far. 

When initially introduced in January, the bill "doubled the amount of land local governments had to zone to meet local housing needs — a potential boon to multifamily developers across the state," reported Dennis Lynch for The Real Deal on Aug. 31.

By the time both houses of the state legislature approved SB-828 [on Aug. 30] — their last week before taking a two-month recess — lawmakers had gutted that signature provision.

Lynch tracks how the increased residential zoning requirement for cities and counties in the bill was weakened and then eliminated through the legislative process.

While not as ambitious as first envisioned, the bill could still result in more residential zoning. The law sent to Governor Jerry Brown’s desk this week allows the state to take into account existing need as well as projected future need when determining zoning allocations.

The bill, sponsored by the Bay Area Council and the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, is opposed by the American Planning Association, California Chapter [pdf]. 

A related bill, AB 1771, by Assemblyman Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica), "aims to make the RHNA allocation process more equitable by allowing non-governmental organizations and surrounding jurisdictions to challenge the allocation of another jurisdiction," according to Bloom. Co-sponsored by the California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation and the Western Center on Law and Poverty [pdf], APA California was kinder to it, taking a "support if amended" position [pdf]. It also sits on Brown's desk.

As for the two sibling bills in Wiener's housing package, SB 827 died early at its first committee hearing in April. SB 829, co-authored by Senator Andy Vidak (R-Hanford), experienced an even more ignominious death through the gut-and-amend process, morphing in April into a child care bill, and in May to a cannabis bill. It's on the governor's desk in that form.

SB 828 in Planetizen:

Friday, August 31, 2018 in The Real Deal

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