Senator Wiener’s SB 35 – the Housing Accountability and Affordability Act – Passes First Assembly Committee

Assembly Committee on Local Government approves SB 35, which streamlines the creation of critically need housing and ensures that all communities are accountable for meeting our housing needs
June 28, 2017

Sacramento – Today, Senate Bill 35, authored by Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) to address California’s housing shortage, cleared a key Assembly Committee, an important step as the bill makes its way through the State Assembly after passing the Senate earlier this month.

The Assembly Committee on Local Government approved Senator Scott Wiener’s Senate Bill 35 – which will create a streamlined approval process for housing in cities that are not meeting their housing goals required by the Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA). This streamlining will expedite the construction of critically needed housing. SB 35 was approved by a vote of 7-2, with support from both Democrats and Republicans.

SB 35 will now move to the Assembly Committee on Housing and Community Development for consideration. SB 35 passed the State Senate by a vote of 25-12 earlier this month.

SB 35 is supported by labor groups, including the State Building & Construction Trades Council, environmental groups, including Natural Resources Defense Council, and affordable housing non-profit developers, including the Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California and Bridge Housing.

“California's housing shortage is strangling our state and harming our environment, economy, health, and quality of life," said Senator Wiener. “Housing is no longer a city-by-city issue – we need regional and statewide solutions to ensure we are creating the housing we so badly need. I want to thank my colleagues in the Assembly who voted today to support this critical bill, which will help us begin to meaningfully address our housing crisis.”

The Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) is the state-mandated process that sets the number of housing units that must be included, at all affordability levels, in each local jurisdiction’s housing element. Under SB 35, if cities aren’t on track to meet those goals, then approval of projects will be streamlined if they meet a set of objective criteria, including affordability, density, zoning, historic, and environmental standards, and if they meet rigorous standards for construction labor. Prevailing wage is required for 100% affordable housing and small to medium size developments, while a skilled and trained workforce will be employed for large, market-rate developments. The streamlining applies only to the income levels that aren’t being built – so if a city is building sufficient market-rate units but not enough low-income units, the project must consist of at least 50% low-income units to qualify for streamlined approval.

SB 35 also creates a more robust reporting requirement for housing production by requiring all cities report their annual housing production to the California Department of Housing and Community Development.

In addition to the State Building & Construction Trades Council, Natural Resources Defense Council, and Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California, SB 35 is supported by, the California Council for Affordable Housing, California Apartment Association, California Association of Realtors, the League of California Community Foundations, Mercy Housing, Bridge Housing, Mission Housing Development Corporation, the Council of Infill Builders, California Asian Chamber of Commerce, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, the Bay Area Council, County of Napa, the San Francisco Housing Action Coalition, Abundant Housing LA, East Bay Forward, YIMBY Action, and many others.

 

Editorials in favor of SB 35:

San Francisco Chronicle: Right fix for California’s housing crisis

“Wiener’s bill gives lawmakers another chance to do their jobs and begin to address California’s most pressing problem.”

 

Sacramento Bee: California Must Confront the Exorbitant Cost of Housing

“Sen. Scott Wiener, a freshman Democrat from San Francisco, is taking up the worthy cause of helping to bring more affordable housing to California’s urban areas, including his own.”