Senate Approves Senator Wiener’s SB 35 – the Housing Accountability and Affordability Act - with Bipartisan Support

June 1, 2017

Sacramento –  Today the Senate 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 25-12, receiving support from both Democrats and Republicans, including from co-authors Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica), and Andy Vidak (R-Hanford.)

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

SB 35 will now move to the Assembly for consideration.

“California’s housing shortage is harming our state’s economy, environment, and quality of life,” said Senator Wiener. “By not building enough housing, we are driving up evictions and homelessness, pushing people out of our state, and jeopardizing the success of young people. We can no longer ignore this crisis. Today the Senate took a huge step forward, by recognizing that fixing our housing crisis requires real change in how we approve and create housing. SB 35 will make it easier and faster to build housing throughout California and will stop the obstruction of housing that is all too common in California."

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, Mercy Housing, Bridge Housing, Mission Housing Development Corporation, 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.

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.