Senator Wiener’s Housing Data and Light Touch Density Legislation Pass Senate Housing Committee

March 22, 2021

SACRAMENTO - Today, Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco)’s legislation, Senate Bill 477 and Senate Bill 10, passed the Senate Housing Committee. SB 477 passed with a bipartisan vote of 7-1 and will now head to the Senate Appropriations Committee. SB 10 passed with a bipartisan vote of 7-1, and will now head to the Governance and Finance Committee.

SB 477, the Housing Data Act, strengthens California’s housing data collection so the state and public can better understand the impact of state housing laws and determine the progress made by various cities and counties in meeting regional housing goals. Currently, the state’s data collection on state housing laws is sporadic and not comprehensive.

This bill instructs state agencies to collect data about SB 35 (Wiener, 2017), which established a streamlined, ministerial approval process, not subject to discretionary review, for certain multifamily affordable housing projects proposed in local jurisdictions that have failed to meet their share of the regional housing need. SB 35 has spurred the creation of thousands of affordable housing units, built more cheaply and quickly than ever before. But the state has yet to quantify the full impact of this law. 

SB 477 will also improve California’s housing data collection by adding a number of other data reporting requirements, specifically:

  • The location and total number of developments approved, building permits issued, and number of units constructed pursuant to streamlining requirements for permanent supportive housing, low barrier navigation centers, and Project RoomKey.  
  • Specified information relating to mitigation fees, zoning ordinances, and development standards that local governments are required to report on their websites pursuant to AB 1483 (Grayson, Chapter 662, Statutes of 2019).
  • Whether an application for a housing development project was submitted under any of the following: the accessory dwelling unit (ADU) or junior accessory dwelling unit (JADU) statute, or both; the density bonus law (and if so, what bonus, concession, or waiver was requested and approved); SB 35 (Wiener, 2017); Project RoomKey; a list of specified housing-related CEQA exemptions; and CEQA.

SB 477 is sponsored by California YIMBY and SPUR.

SB 10 creates a streamlined process for cities to zone for missing middle multi-unit housing. SB 10 allows cities to upzone non-sprawl areas (areas that are close to job centers and/or transit and areas that are in existing urbanized locations, thus reducing vehicle usage and long commutes) up to ten unit buildings. This streamlining tool would be the most powerful one for cities to increase density. By allowing cities to choose to zone for up to 10 units per parcel, SB 10 will make it possible for cities to build significantly more housing in a way that makes sense within their local context. 

Right now, it is illegal to build any more than one unit of housing per parcel in areas subject to single family zoning. This hyper-low density zoning in existing urbanized areas near jobs and transit leads to sprawl development, which increases carbon emissions and wildfire risk. SB 10 allows cities to increase density up to ten unit buildings in a streamlined way, without having to go through the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Cities will also be able to designate these projects as by right, meaning they can be approved ministerially and without a lengthy approval process.

SB 10 is sponsored by California YIMBY. 

“To end California’s severe housing shortage, we need to give cities more tools to get the job done on housing and collect data so that we know where we’re succeeding and where we’re failing,” said Senator Wiener. “SB 477 and SB 10 will make it easier for cities to build more housing and create stronger accountability through comprehensive data collection. We need to stop kicking the can down the road when it comes to housing, and two pieces of legislation will help us make progress more quickly.”