Senator Wiener’s Bill to Improve How California Sets Local Housing Goals Passes Final Assembly Policy Committee

June 28, 2018

Sacramento  –  Today, Senator Scott Wiener’s (D-San Francisco) bill to fix California’s process for setting housing goals in all cities passed its final Assembly policy committee. Senate Bill 828 creates a more data-driven and less political Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) process, which sets the number of both affordable and market-rate units that every city in California needs to create every eight years.

SB 828 passed the Assembly Local Government Committee by a vote of 6-2. SB 828 previously passed the State Senate in May with bipartisan support. 

“To reduce housing costs and end the displacement happening throughout our state, we need systemic changes in how we plan for and build housing in California,” said Senator Wiener. “Too often, some cities manipulate our current laws to reduce their housing obligations to avoid building badly needed new housing, including affordable housing. Creating a more equitable process for setting housing goals ensures that all cities plan for and build the housing we need.”

SB 828 is sponsored by the Bay Area Council and the Silicon Valley Leadership Group.

The current RHNA process is based on a flawed methodology that significantly underestimates population growth and how much housing will be needed. It is a non-standard, highly politicized process that gives some communities advantages when assigning state housing goals. Too often wealthier and more politically connected areas are able to pressure for lower housing allocations, while lower-income areas receive higher housing allocations.

For example, in the last RHNA cycle, the city of Beverly Hills was only allocated three units in total for the entire 8 year cycle. Similarly, Redondo Beach was allocated 1397 units of housing for an eight-year period, while Hermosa Beach and Manhattan Beach – adjacent and demographically similar coastal communities – were allocated 2 and 37 total units, respectively.

SB 828 addresses this by doing the following:

  • Requires the Department of Housing and Community Development to assign increased housing allocations to regions with disproportionately high rates of overcrowding and housing cost-burden, and disproportionately low vacancy rates
  • Requires regional governments to allocate higher housing obligations to high-opportunity areas (like communities with quality access to jobs and public transportation)
  • Prohibits planners from considering prior underperformance on RHNA or stable population numbers when justifying allocations

In addition to its sponsors, SB 828 is supported by a large group of affordable housing and business groups, including Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California, California Housing Partnership Corporation, Bridge Housing, the California Apartment Association, the California Association of Realtors, the California Chamber of Commerce, California Community Builders, California YIMBY, North Bay Leadership Council, San Francisco Planning & Urban Research (SPUR), the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG), and others.