California tries to legislate more affordable housing!

October 3, 2008 at 6:27 am Leave a comment

Our good Governor here in California has signed a wonderful bill into law that will hopefully force local cities to create more affordable housing.  It is SB 375 and one of its main provisions is that it supposedly provides an enforcement mechanism to get cities to comply with their general plan and zone areas appropriately so that housing can be built.

Here is the press release from Housing California, a local housing advocacy group:

Governor Schwarzenegger Signs
Landmark Legislation with SB 375
Californians likely to see an increase in the
supply of homes closer to jobs

(Sacramento, CA) – Signed by Governor Schwarzenegger, Senator Darrell Steinberg’s SB 375 recognizes that an increased supply of compact homes affordable to all Californians is a key component of the state’s AB 32 plans.

“This legislation establishes an improved regional approach to planning that will help ensure that each city and county is addressing the housing needs of low-income families,” said Brian Augusta, staff attorney with the California Legal Rural Assistance Foundation. “It moves us from talk to action by ensuring that every local government sets aside enough land to get new homes built where we need them.”

Housing California’s Executive Director, Julie Spezia, agreed. “We’re pleased with the governor’s decision to sign SB 375. Without more apartments, condos, and small single-family homes at reasonable prices and near their jobs, Californians will continue to ‘drive to find affordability’ — increasing air pollution and gas consumption.”

To encourage more-compact community footprints through alignment of local housing and transportation plans, SB 375 extends the duration of most communities’ housing elements from 5 years to 8 years. To counter the potential impact of less-frequent attention to local housing needs, SB 375:

  • Clarifies that local governments must implement the zoning and programs contained in their housing elements by specified deadlines.
  • Allows community members to track their city or county’s progress through required local hearings and annual reports to the state.
  • Creates a legal remedy that allows community members to hold their elected officials accountable if zoning or programs are not implemented.
  • Allows developers to build on sites identified by the local government for residential development even if the local government fails to rezone the site – as long as the development is consistent with the density and other development standards set by the local government.

Additionally, SB 375 provides California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) relief for developments that are consistent with the Sustainable Communities Strategy and contribute to reductions in greenhouse gas emissions

Housing California can be found here:

Here is the link to the State’s documents on the legislation:

This link will take you to an analysis of the bill:

Lastly here is a link to an interview with State Senator Darrell Steinberg, the author of the bill:

I hope that this method, which ties transportation funding to growth patterns has some success as many other plans have not. This bill is supposedly meant to reduce greenhouse emissions over the long term by encouraging growth and new housing nearer to where people work to cut down on our love affair with the automobile.  None of this is a new idea and is said much better than by me in this article at the California Planning and Development Report:

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Entry filed under: News, Planning. Tags: , .

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