Livable California is Now Analyzing 2021 Legislation
Top Priority Bills: The Worst Five Bad Bills
• SB 6 (Caballero) Brings back the failed SB 1385. Empowers developers to override cities, buying and destroying stores and businesses to build dense market-rate housing. SB 6 targets commercial buildings that have had vacancy problems for 3 years, a gentrification slapdown harming businesses just starting to recover, such as in Crenshaw in South LA, and Riverside and other key cities in the Inland Empire. This bill cites the falsehood that density somehow results in “affordable housing.” The opposite occurs. Strongly Oppose. Link to LC Position Letter
• SB 9 (Atkins) Ends single-family zoning, and is nearly identical to SB 1120, the false “duplex” bill misreported by most media outlets in 2020. The facts: where 1 house now sits, developers can build at least 6 units, not 2 or 4 units (See detailed Fact Sheet). On March 26, 2021, barraged with criticism, Atkins wrote to the San Diego Union-Tribune vowing to rewrite SB 9 to reduce its density to 4 units where 1 house stands now. Yet her new language instead allows 6 units. SB 9 is an unprecedented experiment that invites speculators and big investors to disrupt homeownership and harm the stability of 21M Californians. It’s wrong. Strongly Oppose. Link to LC Position Letter
• SB 10 (Wiener) This SB 902 lookalike bill, warmed over from 2020, lets city councils ignore CEQA to allow 10-unit pricey market-rate apartments almost anywhere — state Sen. Scott Wiener’s obsession for the past three years. This strongly anti-environment bill allows a City Council to override voter-approved land-protection initiatives including urban boundaries and open space, an attack on our 108-year-old right to initiative. Strongly Oppose. Link to LC Position Letter
• SB 478 (Wiener) Amended on April 12, 2021 after strong criticism of it by legislative experts, SB 478 still needs a veto pen. It overrides city zoning to let developers gentrify and destroy older areas that contain small, modest multiple-unit housing. Wiener’s claim that SB 478 will create new 3-unit to 10-unit apartments that will be “affordable by design” is false. New, low-density, multi-unit housing is expensive and beyond reach of most Californians. Until the Legislature reverses its tragic 2011 defunding of affordable housing, legislators’ claims that density creates “affordability by design” remain a falsehood and an impediment. Oppose.
• AB 1322 (Bonta) Voters are under attack in AB 1322. One resident in Alameda noted in a published comment, “Some of the 25,063 Alamedans who voted against Measure Z will be surprised to learn” that a city council under AB 1322 can unilaterally refuse to enforce housing provisions voters have approved. AB 1322 creates an unprecedented and divisive path that lets city councils override voters. It will fuel a statewide war over voter rights and the corrosive impact of developer money on city council votes and city council elections. Strongly Oppose. Link to LC Position Letter
Top Priority Bills: Four Bills We Support
• SB 4 (Gonzales) California Advanced Services Fund aims to expedite deployment of broadband infrastructure and internet service to underserved rural and urban communities. This bill will give smaller towns and underserved urban areas, left behind by the tech boom in extremely costly and over-dense coastal cities, a chance to access better jobs and remote work and attract jobs to their areas. Support. Link to LC Position Letter
• SB 15 (Portantino) brings back SB 1299. This excellent bill REWARDS not PUNISHES cities. Gives cities grants for 7 years if they voluntarily rezone idled big box buildings for affordable and workforce housing. Repays cities for lost retail taxes. Doesn’t pave over or invade existing neighborhoods. Does not target small mom-and-pop businesses. Strongly Support Portantino’s bill. Link to LC Position Letter
• SB 28 (Caballero) Rural Broadband and Digital Infrastructure Video Competition Reform Act of 2021. This is a significant bill to help reduce inequality caused by California’s digital divide, with 2.3 million Californians lacking broadband access. This bill will help rural, unserved, and underserved communities build broadband networks that reach all Californians. Support. Link to LC Position Letter
• AB 787 (Gabriel) Converting housing units in existing buildings to low-income units is an effective way to “build” affordable housing. California is severely under-producing low-income housing due to the legislature’s defunding of affordable housing in 2011. That killed a $2B annual program, and since that time California has been in a tailspin, unable to agree on how to finance low-income housing. AB 787 is a step toward doing what’s right. Support. Link to LC Position Letter
Other Bad Bills
• SB 7 (Atkins) Lets developers ignore CEQA if they include a very, very small number of affordable units within a $15 million project. See our letter from 2020 against the lookalike bill, SB 995: SB 7 is nearly the same as Atkins’ failed anti-environment, developer giveaway that failed in 2020, SB 995. Strongly Oppose.
• SB 8 (Skinner) SB 330 author Nancy Skinner seeks a “5-year extension” for a bill written for developers and investors. A sunset clause is supposed to end SB 330 in 2025, but SB 8 extends it to 2030. It rewards gentrification, ignores the homeless, creates NO affordable units and silence communities facing big luxury projects, such as South L.A. and the Inland Empire, limiting the public to 5 hearings. Luxury projects rewarded by the State cry out for more, not less, accountability. Skinner promoted SB 330 by citing a now-debunked claim that California had a “3.5M shortage.” This law cannot sunset soon en0ugh for those in need. Strongly Oppose. Link to LC Position Letter
• SB 55 (Stern) Prohibits development in high fire hazard severity zones, but at the same time lets developers impose much bigger apartment buildings in fire-prone areas not within the official severity zone mapping. This is a poorly reasoned bill. Non-designated fire zones in California suffer mass fires that make headlines, reach the ocean, leap across the 405 and burn down vineyards. Shall we pour new density into areas that aren’t on the HFHSZ maps, as this bill suggests? We expect sensible safety ideas, not SB 55. Strongly Oppose
• SB 290 (Skinner) This Bay Area legislator again seeks to water down “Density Bonus” law, which requires that developer/investors who benefit from upsizing their projects, include a small percentage of moderate income or low-income units in their buildings. This is Skinner’s second attempt to cut back on the affordability requirements amidst a homeless crisis and severe shortage of low-income housing. This bill moves in the wrong direction, fulfilling developers — but not struggling households. Her last effort, SB 1085, rightly died in 2020. Strongly oppose. Link to LC Position Letter
• SB 477 (Wiener) Requires city planning departments to include in their annual reports to the state Dept. of Housing and Community Development (HCD) detailed data about the costs, standards, and applications for proposed housing projects at the city level. SB 477 is another unhelpful and unfriendly Wiener effort to paint hundreds of cities as bad actors who must be policed by state officials at HCD, a state entity that, itself, is rife with error, waste and lack of accountability. Oppose. Link to LC Position Letter
• AB 68 (Salas) Implements the State Auditor’s surprisingly muddled recommendations for affordable housing. The Auditor’s slam in November on the state Dept. of Housing and Community Development’s (HCD) fundamental failures, including HCD’s inability to identify areas of California most in need of affordable housing, made headlines. But the Auditor then wrongly attacked the cities. AB 68 is far off-target, seeking to give policing powers over cities to HCD, a state entity that, itself, is rife with error, waste and lack of accountability. Oppose. Link to LC Position Letter
• AB 115 (Bloom) Requires cities to allow apartments in commercial areas if a developer reserves 20% of the units for affordable housing. This bill ill-advisedly gives developers undue powers over business districts across hundreds of towns, cities and counties. Worse, its 20% affordable requirement is set far, far too low for any city to address its affordable housing needs, which the state says should comprise 60%, not 20%, of new apartment units. The low-ball 20% rule persists in state law and is digging a very deep hole in our low-income housing crisis. Oppose.
• AB 215 (Chiu) An intent bill to strengthen the Department of Housing and Community Development’s housing law enforcement authority. A better plan would be to reform the troubled, non-transparent, and over-funded HCD. Oppose. Link to LC Position Letter
•AB 678 (Grayson) Housing development projects: fees and exactions cap. Oppose. Link to LC Position Letter
• AB 989 (Gabriel) Housing: local development decisions: appeals. Oppose. Link to LC Position Letter
• AB 1398 (Bloom) Planning and zoning: housing element: rezoning of sites. Oppose. Link to LC Position Letter
• AB 1401 (Friedman) The latest effort to severely reduce parking in buildings within 1/2 mile of major transit stops. We respect this author. But AB 1401 creates hardship for families with children, workers who carry tools or equipment, people with two jobs, older people who cannot walk 1/2 mile, and those recovering from COVID and other illnesses. Likely Oppose. Link to LC Position Letter
Other Bills We Support
• SB 657 (Ochoa Bogh) Employment: electronic documents.. Support. Link to LC Position Letter
• SB 765 (Stern) Current Accessory Dwelling Unit (granny flat) law forces cities to let developers build to within 4 feet of a neighbor. This bill leaves the setback distance up to the cities, as it should be. Strongly Support. Link to LC Position Letter
• AB 571 (Mayes) Regarding “Density Bonus” projects, this bill would prohibit impact fees, including inclusionary zoning fees, in-lieu fees, and public benefit fees, from being imposed on a housing development’s affordable units or bonus units. Support. Link to LC Position Letter
• AB 617 (Davies) Regional Housing Needs Exchange of Allocation would authorize a city or county, by agreement, to transfer all or a portion of its allocation of regional housing need to another city or county. This restores a previously successful law/process. Support.
• AB 803 (Borner-Horvath) Starter Home Revitalization Act of 2021. Support
• AB 1258 (Nguyen) The Department of Housing and Community Development, (HCD) is empowered to adopt the final regional housing needs plan. Cities believe HCD has erroneously calculated these numbers in the most recent cycle, but have no way to challenge HCD in the courts. This bill would subject the final regional housing need plan to judicial review. Support.
• ACA 7 (Muratsuchi) – Local Control Amendment – “a city charter provision, or an ordinance or regulation adopted pursuant to a city charter, that regulates the zoning or use of land within the boundaries of the city is deemed to address a municipal affair and prevails over a conflicting state statute, Strongly Support.
• SCA 2 (Allen) proposes removing a barrier from a throwback era that stymies affordable housing, by repealing Article 34 of the State Constitution. Article 34 prohibits cities and counties from building or buying low-rent housing projects — unless local voters approve the project in an election. Strongly Support.
• SB 51, SB 601 (descriptions to come).
• AB 537, AB 803, AB 1295 (descriptions to come).
Bills Under Analysis by Livable California
• ACA 1 (Aguiar-Curry) Lowers voter threshold from 2/3rds to 55% for local government general obligation bonds, sales taxes or transactions. New taxes would fund construction, rehabilitation, or replacement of public infrastructure, affordable housing, or permanent supportive housing. Analyze and Decide.
• SB 5 (Atkins) “Spot bill” to allow an Affordable Housing Bond on the November, 2022 ballot. Voters, should we put back part of the billions of dollars that Gov. Jerry Brown took away in 2010 when he defunded affordable housing in California? Analyze and Decide.
• AB 15 (Chiu) Extends anti-eviction protections for COVID-impacted tenants from January 31, 2021 to January 1, 2022. Analyze and decide.
• AB 16 (Chiu) Spot bill to address and provide funding to mitigate financial impacts of COVID on renters, small landlords, and affordable housing providers. Details not available. Watch.
• AB 59 (Gabriel) Changes the way developers review and legally challenge local sewer, water, planning, building permits and other local fees and charges. As we have seen repeatedly, local regulation is NOT why affordable housing isn’t built. Likely Oppose.
• AB 71 (Rivas/Chiu) Creates a statewide homelessness solutions program to be paid for by increasing taxes and closing loopholes on higher income individuals and corporations. Analyze and Decide.
• AB 339 (Lee) State and Local Government Open Meetings would require all meetings to provide the public with an opportunity to comment on proposed legislation. Analyze and Decide
• AB 345 (Quirk-Silva) Accessory dwelling units: separate conveyance. Analyze and Decide.
• AB 387 (Lee) A “spot bill” with no further details available at this time, the Social Housing Act of 2021 would establish the California Housing Authority for the purpose of developing mixed-income rental and limited equity homeownership housing, and mixed-use developments, to address the shortage of affordable homes for low-income and moderate-income households. Addresses a solution promoted to Livable California by brilliant Professor Patrick Condon. Watch.
• AB 602 “spot bill” on residential development impact fees. Details not yet available. Watch.
• AB 816 (Chiu) – Requires creation of a statewide plan for addressing homelessness and allows for legal action against jurisdictions who do not make progress towards meeting the plan’s goals. Analyze and Decide