Senator Wiener’s Housing Streamlining Bill, SB 35, Approved by Assembly as Part of Broad Housing Package

September 15, 2017

Sacramento – Today Senator Scott Wiener’s Senate Bill 35 – which creates a streamlined approval process for housing in cities that are not meeting their state-mandated housing goals – was approved by the California Assembly as a key part of a housing package. This streamlining will expedite the construction of critically needed housing, including affordable housing. SB 35 now goes back to the Senate for a concurrence vote to accept amendments made in the Assembly before moving to the Governor’s desk. SB 35 was previously approved by the Senate earlier this year.  

In addition to SB 35, the housing package approved today by the California Legislature includes bills that increase funding for affordable housing construction. Senator Wiener is a co-author of Senator Toni Atkins’ Senate Bill 2 and Senator Jim Beall’s Senate Bill 3, both of which will increase funding.

“Today, the Legislature took a significant step forward to address California’s housing shortage - a shortage that threatens our state's future,” said Senator Wiener. "While the package doesn't solve our housing problems entirely - that will take years of sustained focus and work - it's a very healthy downpayment that should make us proud. California's high housing costs are strangling our state's economy and environment and undermining our health and quality of life. We're past the point where communities can choose whether to create housing or whether to opt out. *All* communities need to participate in creating the housing we so desperately need. SB 35 holds local communities accountable by streamlining housing approvals in cities that aren’t meeting their state-mandated housing goals. We also need funding to create housing for our low-income residents, and I’m proud to co-author SB 2 with Senator Atkins and SB 3 with Senator Beall. I want to thank Governor Brown, Senate Pro Tem De Leon and Speaker Rendon, for working with us to put this package together.”

SB 35 is supported by labor groups, including the State Building & Construction Trades Council, environmental groups, including the California League of Conservation Voters, and affordable housing nonprofit developers, including the Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California and Bridge Housing. It is also 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, and many others.

It also has the support of local leaders from across the state including San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, and San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo.

A full list of supporters can be found on the fact sheet.

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.