Senator Wiener’s Housing Data Act Passes Legislature

September 3, 2021

SACRAMENTO - Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco)’s Housing Data Act, Senate Bill 477, passed the Assembly by a bipartisan vote of 71-1, and the Senate on a bipartisan concurrence vote of 37-0. SB 477 will now head to the Governor’s desk for final approval. This legislation is sponsored by California YIMBY and SPUR.

SB 477 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.

California is in the midst of a deep housing crisis, which is leading to mass migration out of the state, skyrocketing eviction rates, record levels of homelessness and poverty, and a growing class of low income and middle class super commuters unable to afford housing within several hours of their jobs. Many local governments in California are motivated independently to increase density in their neighborhoods, and others are required by state law to do so. However, due to the lack of adequate statewide standards and burdensome and outdated regulations, some California cities are able to avoid accountability and find loopholes to prevent denser housing from becoming a reality.

“Our housing crisis in California impacts everyone, and we’re working at the state level to reform exclusionary zoning, create more affordable housing, and make it easier to build housing,” said Senator Wiener. “It’s critical that we understand how these state laws are actually impacting housing supply and California’s housing crisis overall. SB 477 will help us measure this impact and give us a clearer sense of how to move forward with state housing law.”

"The state legislature has a responsibility to ensure that our housing policies are effectively addressing the housing shortage and affordability crisis," said Brian Hanlon, CEO of California YIMBY. "SB 477 will close a vital gap in our understanding of how these policies are working, and how we can improve them to make sure everyone in California has a home they can afford."

"It is critical that we track the use of state housing laws at the local level to determine their efficacy and impact on housing production," Michael Lane, State Policy Director at San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR). "SB 477 is a necessary and long overdue step to allow our state housing policy to be grounded in and informed by better and more complete data gathered from across the state and to measure progress. We thank the author for introducing the measure and the Legislature for passing it. We now urge Governor Newsom to sign it into law."