Top Priority: The Seven Bad Bills of 2021
• SB 6 (Kill the Mom & Pops, by Anna Caballero) SB 6 jettisons local planning, letting developers wipe out your business and shopping areas to wedge in MORE market-rate apartment blocks. SB 6 targets businesses that have had vacancy problems for 3 years, a gentrification come-on that will kill stores just starting to recover, such as in Crenshaw in L.A., San Bernardino in the Inland Empire, and old-time businesses in The Fillmore. SB 6 falsely insists that density creates “affordable housing.” For several months SB 6 has had a BLANK SPACE where the affordable units were supposed to be promised. SB 6, called SB 1385 last year, should FAIL again. Link to LC Position Letter.
• SB 8 (ATM for Developers, by Nancy Skinner) In 2019, Skinner passed her SB 330 litigation & luxury housing law by promising legislators it would “sunset” in 2025. She called it “The Housing Crisis Act” of 2019, a law that does not produce ONE unit of affordable housing. Now she wants to extend SB 330 to 2030, renamed SB 8. It still slashes public hearings, muzzles sensitive communities, empowers luxury housing developers to override city councils, and encourages developers to sue taxpayers for $50,000 for each luxury unit rejected by a city. Skinner promoted SB 330 by citing a now-debunked claim that California had a “3.5M shortage.” This shameful law cannot sunset soon enough for families in need. Link to LC Position Letter. Assembly Committee on Housing and Community Development Hearing on June 22! Send new Portal letter now!
• SB 9 (Let’s End Homeownership, by Toni Atkins and Scott Wiener) This divisive bill, which died in 2020 as SB 1120, crushes single-family zoning in California, a threat to 7 million homeowners. Wiener has called yards and single-family homes “immoral.” SB 9 is not a “duplex” bill. It allows 4 market-rate homes where 1 now stands (up to 6 units, if developers use a hidden “two-step” that Livable California volunteer attorneys spotted). SB 9 is the beginning of the end of homeownership in California, as investors jump into bidding wars against families. Facing withering criticism, author Atkins, in a Sacramento Bee op-ed, said her bill gives “homeowners the opportunity to reimagine their property.” No. Only the rich and developers can finance full-sized homes in the backyard. SB 9 is a senseless gamble against 21M people living in single-family homes. Link here to LC Position Letter. Assembly Committee on Housing and Community Development Hearing on June 22. Send new Portal letter now!
• SB 10 (14-Unit Buildings Everywhere, by Scott Wiener) Opens all neighborhoods to demolition and speculation, letting any city council enact a bizarre ordinance that tosses out CEQA to allow 14-unit luxury apartments on “any parcel”, overriding all zoning including single-family and commercial. This bill openly invites gentrification of older, diverse, multi-family and single-family areas. It requires NO affordable units. A copycat of Wiener’s defeated SB 902, SB 10 is an anti-green, anti-voter bill that also 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 voter initiative. Link to LC Position Letter. Assembly Committee on Housing and Community Development Hearing on June 22! Also goes to the Assembly Committee on Local Government, date TBD.
• SB 478 (One-bedroom Apartments YOU Can’t Afford, by Scott Wiener) On any multifamily street, or in any mixed-use business district, a developer can build 14 units — that’s 10 units, plus 2 ADUs and 2 JADUs (granny flats). Cities would be banned from imposing any standard, such as a yard, that prevents developers from building a density of 1.25 FAR. (The mathematical formula known as Floor Area Ratio, or FAR, in real terms means means allowing a two-story, 6,250 sq. ft. apartment building with very small units on a 5,000 sq. ft. lot.) Wiener wrote it for techies earning average salaries of $90,0000 to $145,000 a year. L.A. residents will notice similarities to their “small lot subdivisions” — promised to be affordable but among L.A.’s most luxurious $1M+ condos & airbnbs. New, dense housing is extremely costly, as Vancouver keeps proving. Link to LC Position Letter. Committee on Housing and Community Development Hearing on June 22! Send new Portal letter now!
• AB 1322 (by Rivas and Ting) This bill was tabled until 2022. Creates an unprecedented path for city councils to override housing laws that were approved by voter initiative. AB 1322 will fuel a war over voter rights and the corrosive impact of developer money pouring into city council — and legislative — coffers. It empowers any city council to “commence proceedings” to determine whether a local voter-approved initiative “conflicts” with state law, a role for which councilmembers are entirely unqualified. Voters would be forced to prove, in court, an “abuse of discretion” if a city council overrode voters’ successful housing initiative. That’s a major hurdle. To say AB 1322 violates the constitutional premise of separation of powers is an understatement. Link to LC Position Letter. Dead for this year, now a 2-year bill.
• AB 1401 (Just Take the Bus! by Laura Friedman) USC and UCLA found that working-class families buy a car the moment they can afford one because using transit robs them of family time, severely reduces job choices and makes chores a nightmare. AB 1401 creates hardship for those who don’t deserve it. Strongly Oppose. Link to LC Position Letter. Location: In Senate awaiting assignment to a committee.
Top Priority: Six Good 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. Location: In Assembly – Committee on Communications and Conveyance
• 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. Location: In Assembly – Committee Not Yet Assigned
• 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. Location: In Assembly – Assigned to Committee on Communications and Conveyance – Send new Portal letter now
• 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. Location: In Senate – Committee Not Yet Assigned
• Assembly Constitutional Amendment 7 (ACA 7, Muratsuchi) – Local Control Amendment – This bill places on the ballot the question of whether voters wish to make zoning and land-use a municipal affair, following five years of intense legislative effort to wrest zoning and planning away from charter cities: “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. Location: Assembly – Committee Not Yet Assigned
• Senate Constitutional Amendment 2 (SCA 2, Allen) SCA 2 proposes removing a barrier enacted in California during a throwback era that stymied affordable public housing. This bill places on the California ballot the question of whether voters wish to repeal the outdated 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. Location: Senate Committee on Energy, Utilities and Communications – Send new Portal letter now.
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. Location: Signed into Law by Governor – No more action possible
• 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. Link to LC Position Letter. Location: Dead for 2021 – now a 2 year bill
• 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. Location: In Assembly – Assigned to Committee on Housing and Community Development – Send new Portal letter now
• 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. Location: In Assembly – Assigned to Committee on Housing and Community Development – Send new Portal letter now
• 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. Location: In Senate – Committee Not Yet Assigned
• 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. Location: In Senate – Committee on Housing
• AB 989 (Gabriel) Housing: local development decisions: appeals. Oppose. Link to LC Position Letter. Location: In Senate – Committee Not Yet Assigned
• AB 1398 (Bloom) Planning and zoning: housing element: rezoning of sites. Oppose. Link to LC Position Letter. Location: In Senate – Committee on Housing
Other Bills We Support
• AB 14 (Aguiar-Curry) – Communications: broadband services: California Advanced Services Fund. – Support. Location: In Senate – Committee Not Yet Assigned
• AB 41 (Wood) – Broadband infrastructure deployment – Support. Link to LC Position Letter Location: In Senate – Committee In Senate – Committees on Energy, Utilities and Transportation
• AB 491 (Gonzalez) – Housing: affordable and market rate units – Support. Link to LC Position Letter Location: In Senate – Assigned to Housing Committee – Send new Portal letter now
• AB 537 (Quirk) Communications: wireless telecommunications and broadband facilities. Support. Location: In Senate – Committees on Energy, Utilities and Communications and Government and Finance
• AB 561 (Ting) – Help Homeowners Add New Housing Program: accessory dwelling unit financing. Support. Link to LC Position Letter. Location: In Senate – Committee on Housing
• 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. Location: In Senate – Committee Not Yet Assigned
• 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 of making friendly agreements between cities that the state wrongly took away. Support. Location: Dead for this year, now a 2 year bill.
• AB 787 (Gabriel) – Planning and zoning: housing element: converted affordable housing units. Support. Link to LC Position Letter. Location: In Senate – Committee on Housing
• AB 803 (Boerner-Horvath) Starter Home Revitalization Act of 2021. Support. Location: In Senate – Assigned to Housing Committee – Send new Portal letter now
• AB 1295 (Muratsuchi) Residential development agreements: very high fire risk areas Support. Location: Dead for this year, now a 2 year bill.
• SB 51 (Durazo) Surplus residential property. Support. Location: In Assembly – Assigned to Committee on Housing and Community Development – Send new Portal letter now
• SB 601 (Ochoa Bogh) Personal income taxes: exclusions: capital gains: sale of residence. Support. Link to LC Position Letter. Location: In Assembly – Committee on Revenue and Taxation
• SB 657 (Ochoa Bogh) Employment: electronic documents. Support. Link to LC Position Letter. Location: In Assembly – Assigned to Judiciary Committee – Send new Portal letter now
Bills Under Analysis by Livable California
• 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. Location: Appears dead for this year
• AB 15 (Chiu) Extends anti-eviction protections for COVID-impacted tenants from January 31, 2021 to January 1, 2022. Analyze and Decide. Location: Appears dead for this year
• 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. Location: In Senate – Committees on HOUSING, HUMAN S. and JUD.