Senator Wiener’s Statement on the Release of List of SB 35 Streamlined Cities

February 1, 2018

Sacramento –  Today Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) released the following statement after the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) released the official list of cities that will  have their housing approvals streamlined under Senate Bill 35, which Senator Wiener authored last year. The list is based on whether cities have met their Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) goals, which is the trigger for when streamlining applies under SB 35. Streamlining means that a project that fits within zoning must be approved without any discretionary processes or appeals.

According to the HCD report:

  • 378 cities and counties in California (70.1% of jurisdictions) did not meet their RHNA goals for both market-rate housing and below market rate housing, meaning that all housing approvals in those jurisdictions that meet the objective standards of SB 35 are eligible for streamlining
  • 148 cities (27.5%) met their market-rate housing goals, but not their below market rate housing goals, meaning that projects that are least 50% low income housing will be eligible for streamlining.
  • 13 cities (2.4%) met both their market-rate and below market rate housing goals, and therefore won’t be subject to SB 35.

“When 97% of cities are failing to meet their housing goals, it’s clear we need to change how we approach housing in California,” said Senator Wiener. “The good news is that with the passage of SB 35 and other housing reform bills, as well as major funding bills taking effect, we have pivoted toward a Housing First policy. While we have a lot more work to do to meet these goals and to reduce housing costs in California, it’s exciting to see the progress we are making, particularly given that just one year ago SB 35 was just beginning its legislative process. Starting today, we will see more housing approved more quickly all across our state, particularly affordable housing which is so badly needed in our communities.”

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 labor standards. Prevailing wage is required for 100% affordable housing and 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.