One of the nation's most ambitious and sweeping statewide laws intended to spur affordable housing development was signed into law in California at the end of September.
California Governor Gavin Newsom last week signed two bills, AB 2011 and SB 6, which will allow by-right development of affordable housing developments on most commercially zoned properties in the state, allowing projects to circumvent the discretionary review processes of local governments and the review processes of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
The California State Legislature approved the dramatic statewide zoning reform in August, but the final step for approval was far from a sure thing—Gov. Newsom has a track record of vetoing bills favored by urbanists, including an Idaho Stop bill from last year’s legislative session.
“Both bills guarantee union-scale wages and promise an expedited construction process, while keeping development close to city centers to help the state meet its environmental goals and avoid sprawl,” reports Hannah Wiley for the Los Angeles Times. The support of labor unions—split after California Conference of Carpenters and the Service Employees International Union of California decided to support the bill—was essential to breaking the traditional political gridlock and winning approval for AB 2011, according to the article.
An August analysis by Joe Distefano and Peter Calthorpe for Urban Footprint found that the zoning reforms approved by the two bills could unlock enough land for development to yield 1.6 million to 2.4 million residential units.
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