First Major Housing Project Invokes SB 35 – Senator Wiener’s Groundbreaking Housing Streamlining Bill

March 8, 2018

San Francisco –  Today Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) released the following statement after the developers of a large housing project in Berkeley that had been stalled for years announced they are invoking SB 35 streamlining. Senator Wiener authored SB 35 last year to expedite housing approvals. The Berkeley project includes 50% onsite affordable housing, which means 130 new units of affordable housing, and 260 units overall, will be built in Berkeley.

“Expediting the production of housing at all income levels, including badly needed affordable housing, is exactly what SB 35 is about. This project was stalled for years, and now it will move forward with a large amount of affordable housing. Affordable housing is a major beneficiary of SB 35, since the law streamlines affordable housing in almost every California community. SB 35 ensures that *all* communities add new housing. This goes to show that if we push the envelope on housing – which we did with SB 35 – good things will happen.”

Under SB 35, if cities fall short of their state-required housing goals, then approval of projects in those cities are streamlined if they meet a set of objective criteria, including affordability, and if they meet labor standards. 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 include at least 50% low-income units to qualify for streamlined approval. Streamlining, under SB 35, means that cities cannot subject projects to discretionary approvals, such as conditional use, and that CEQA does not apply.