Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) allocation for the City of Torrance: 5009 new housing units
While we have been preoccupied with COVID-19 and sheltering in place, lawmakers in Sacramento have been busy addressing housing affordability in California. Many senate and assembly bills are soon to be approved or rejected and will alter local control of our cities and change our neighborhoods for better or worse.
NOW is the time to address these bills. As we read them, we need to take into consideration how many units will be required to be affordable, whom these bills will help and whom these bills will hurt. We also need to consider their environmental impact, infrastructure costs and who will pay for them, and long-range effects. Either in favor or opposed, we need to contact our senators, assembly members and governor to voice our opinion before the bills are cast in stone.
Many of these bills are hundreds of pages long . Below are descriptions in a nutshell of upcoming housing bills that will evoke big change:
SB 1120 (Atkins and Scott Wiener) allows developers to build 4 homes where a single home now stands. In addition, SB 1120 lets cities apply local ADU law (granny flats) to boost the 4 units to 8 units per lot. SB 1120 ends single-family zoning in more than 800 cities. This bill does not include affordable housing requirements. [ Link to read full text of bill: SB 1120 ]
AB 725 (Buffy Wicks and Scott Wiener) requires that 25% of future “RHNA” growth be shifted by the cities into stable neighborhoods that are currently home to “2 to 35 housing units per acre.” AB 725 requires no affordable housing. [ Link to read full text of bill: AB 725 ]
SB 902 (Scott Wiener) opens protected land, shorelines, sensitive and incompatible lands to up to 10-unit apartments almost everywhere. Municipalities would be empowered to undo voter-enacted citizen initiatives that restrict land use. It allows municipalities to override voters for the sole purpose of approving 10-unit luxury apartments of any height, on any type of parcel, on streets statewide. [ Link to read full text of bill: SB 902 ]
SB 995 (Scott Wiener) eases the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to incentivize “environmental leadership project” – or large luxury housing and office towers. SB 995 has no affordable housing requirement. [ Link to read full text of bill:SB 995 ]
AB 1279 (Richard Bloom of Santa Monica) gives power to the state to deem certain middle-class areas to be “High Resource Areas.” These areas will be held accountable to transform their communities into dense rental communities. The passage of this bill will allow up to 120-unit apartment buildings in residentially zoned neighborhoods if a city failed to reach an arbitrary goal called the Regional Housing Needs Assessment, or RHNA. More than 400 California cities have failed to approve enough housing units at the “target” rate set by regional housing officials, known as the Regional Housing Needs Assessment. [ Link to read full text of bill:AB 1279 ]
SB 1085 (Nancy Skinner) rewards developers who construct “density bonus” apartment buildings. It allows for the building of luxury units, but requires that 12% of the resulting units are affordable housing. [ Link to read full text of bill: SB 1085 ]
SB 1299 (Portantino). Encourages cities and counties to voluntarily rezone and reuse idled shopping centers and empty big-box retail buildings for housing. Rather than punish or place mandates on struggling cities, SB 1299 provides cities grants to replace lost sales taxes from commercial sites-turned-housing. Cities in turn would agree to allow these developments “by right,” but cities would oversee the building’s design review. [ Link to read full text of bill: SB1299 ]
SB 1385 (Anna Caballero) currently changes almost all California cities’ land-use rules to replace neighborhood stores with, mostly luxury housing projects with a limited number of affordable housing units. [ Link to read full text of bill: SB1385 ]