Fresh off of a lopsided victory over a recall campaign, California Governor Gavin Newsom has signed a suite of bills intended to boost housing production statewide.
“The housing affordability crisis is undermining the California Dream for families across the state, and threatens our long-term growth and prosperity,” said Newsom in a news release. “Making a meaningful impact on this crisis will take bold investments, strong collaboration across sectors and political courage from our leaders and communities to do the right thing and build housing for all."
The bills signed by Newsom include SB 9, sponsored by State Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins, which enables the construction of duplexes statewide - effectively eliminating single-family zoning in California. However, the legislation restricts the subdivision of any properties subject to affordability covenants, and requires that at least one unit be owner occupied.
“SB 9 will open up opportunities for homeowners to help ease our state’s housing shortage, while still protecting tenants from displacement," said Atkins in a prepared statement. "And it will help our communities welcome new families to the neighborhood and enable more folks to set foot on the path to buying their first home.”
Newsom also signed SB 10, legislation from San Francisco Senator Scott Wiener which permits cities and counties to voluntarily create a process for streamlining the approval of new developments with up to 10 residential units on infill sites near transit.
“California’s severe housing shortage is badly damaging our state, and we need many approaches to tackle it,” said Wiener. “SB 10 provides one important approach: making it dramatically easier and faster for cities to zone for more housing. It shouldn’t take five or 10 years for cities to re-zone, and SB 10 gives cities a powerful new tool to get the job done quickly. I want to thank the Governor for signing this essential bill and for continuing to lead on housing.”
The Los Angeles City Council voted in August to oppose both SB 9 and SB 10, arguing that the bills would pare back local control over zoning and accelerate gentrification.
The new housing legislation was accompanied by the announcement of a $1.75 billion plan by the state Housing and Community Development Department to fund shovel-ready affordable housing projects that have thus far been unable to secure financing through tax-exempt bonds or low-income housing tax credits. The new funding will go toward 90 projects, generating between 6,300 and 7,200 units of new affordable low-income housing statewide. That total would include roughly 1,200 units of permanent supportive housing.
“This investment is going to unlock the keys to upwards of 7,200 quality affordable homes for Californians who need it most," =Housing and Community Development director Gustavo Velasquez. "Homes that ensure so many can focus on better opportunities for their wellbeing, education, and employment. These swift and bold solutions are how we ensure our families and communities come back better than ever before.”
For more information on the program, visit the California Housing Accelerator website.
The accelerator funding is part of a broader initiative called the California Comeback Plan, which will funnel $22 billion into housing and homelessness programs in the wake of the pandemic. The spending is expected to lead to the creation of 84,000 new affordable homes, more than half of which would be reserved for people exiting homelessness.