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

SB 35, which streamlines the creation of critically need housing and ensures that all communities are accountable for meeting our housing needs, clears its last policy committee
July 12, 2017

Sacramento – Today, Senate Bill 35, authored by Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) to address California’s housing shortage, was approved by the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee in the bill’s final policy committee hearing. SB 35 will next be voted on by the full Assembly, which could happen as early as next week.

SB 35 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 5-1.

SB 35 is co-authored by Senator Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica), and Andy Vidak (R-Hanford), and Assemblymembers Anna Caballero (D-Salinas) and Tim Grayson (D-Concord.)

“All cities in our state need to create housing if we are going to meaningfully address California’s housing shortage,” said Senator Wiener. “We need to be producing 180,000 units of housing a year in California, but we are producing less than half that, which is inflicting real damage. Our housing shortage is harming our environment, economy, health, and quality of life.”

SB 35 is supported by labor groups, including the State Building & Construction Trades Council, environmental groups, including California League of Conservation Voters, and affordable housing non-profit developers, including the Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California and Bridge Housing. SB 35 also has support from local elected officials including San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf.

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, California League of Conservation Voters, and Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California, SB 35 is supported by, the California Council for Affordable Housing, the Natural Resources Defense Council, 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, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, 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.”

 

Los Angeles Times: It's time for cities to start building their fair share of housing

“Now, state Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) has proposed putting some sharp teeth to the law. His bill (SB 35) would require cities that have fallen behind on their housing goals to streamline approval of certain residential projects, barring them from requiring any additional environmental review or city council vote.”