Housing

RSG's Housing Right Now Workshop (April 24th, 2019)

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Last Wednesday, RSG collaborated with law firm Rutan and Tucker, LLP to host a workshop ambitiously titled “Everything You Need to Know about Housing Now.” The event quickly sold out, illustrating just how eager city and county staff are to learn more about recent housing legislation and how it affects their communities. Held in RSG’s Irvine office, the event was attended by city and county staff from the counties of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Diego, and Ventura.

The workshop presenters were attorneys Bill Ihrke and Kathy Jenson and RSG principals Tara Matthews and Hitta Mosesman, which allowed workshop attendees to hear about both the legal and practical implications of recent housing bills:

  • Bill delved into the nuances of several pieces of legislation, focusing primarily on Senate Bill (SB) 35, which streamlines the approval process for infill developments in local communities that failed to meet their Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA).

  • Hitta provided several case studies of cities that have already received applications for projects from developers looking to take advantage of the streamlined approval process allowed by SB 35.

  • Kathy explained how recent housing legislation and the California Coastal Commission’s new focus on “no net loss” affects coastal communities.

  • Tara guided attendees through strategic steps to take to ensure compliance with the new housing legislation, including getting involved early in the RHNA process, updating local planning and zoning policies as needed, applying for SB 2 technical assistance grants by the November 30th deadline, maintaining a current inventory of existing affordable units and staying up to date on compliance monitoring, and filing the required annual reports.

In light of California’s housing crisis and the need for 100,000 new housing units each year, State legislators are looking to hold communities responsible for doing their part in creating more housing in California. For better or for worse, the recent Legislative Housing Package created several new requirements and implications for every California community. If you’re interested in learning more about how your community is impacted, please contact us at RSG today. We’re happy to help!

RSG at the 2019 Housing California Conference

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This year’s Housing California Conference marked the 40th anniversary of the organization’s tireless efforts to build a California with affordable and dignified housing for all. This year’s conference was flooded with celebration of recent legislative wins for housing, passion for the solutions, and enthusiasm for the future. With attendees ranging from community organizers, to housing developers, to state legislators, it is evident that housing is at the forefront of every Californian’s priorities.

The importance of housing and growth of its public support were highlighted by a significant increase in attendance – 2019 out-shined 2018 with approximately 50% more attendees. The estimated 2,200 attendees had the opportunity to attend an array of workshops ranging from public policy, to funding sources, to community engagement. With such a diverse collection, there were learning opportunities for everyone.

While the conference provided us with a variety of topics, it was tough to miss some common themes that resonated throughout most of the workshops – nimbyism, homelessness, and funding. Such themes highlight the fact that with growing support, there are also growing concerns. Fortunately, California’s strong, pro-housing leadership at the state level is actively making strides to provide cities across the state with the necessary tools to combat such obstacles as made evident by the Department of Housing and Community Development’s (HCD) palpable presence at the conference.

RSG left this year’s conference feeling energized about the direction California is heading in, and the growing public support for affordable housing. It was exciting to see how this 40th annual conference presented an educational experience that encompassed an inclusionary and progressive vision for affordable housing. We are eager to see the opportunities and solutions that will arise in future legislation and look forward to celebrating more wins at the 2020 conference in San Diego.

AB2162 - What are your thoughts?

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AB2162 (Chiu; Planning and zoning: housing development: supportive housing), requires that proposed permanent and supportive housing developments meeting certain criteria, be granted approval by local governments within a specified time frame and be considered a “use by right” in zones used for multifamily and mixed uses as well as non-residential zones that allow for multifamily use.  Developers are required to provide the planning agency with details of a plan for on-site supportive services for residents.  In addition to this, local government is prohibited from placing any minimum parking requirements on developments whose units are occupied by supportive housing residents and located within 1/2 mile of a public transit stop.

It may be worth noting that the bill also specifies that its stipulations do not impede the ability of a developer to pursue a density bonus from the local government or alter the authority of a local government to accept or modify land use policies or regulations that promote the development of supportive housing.

The Housing and Community Development Department is interested in learning the level of understanding on the part of local governments regarding AB2162 – By Right Permanent Supportive Housing.  By taking this short survey, you can play a part in helping them learn how to best assist with implementation of this new legislation.  To take the survey, click here.

SB2 and You: What you need to be ready

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SB2 was first introduced in 2017 as one of 15 bills in the 2017 Legislative Housing Package. In it’s design to create a permanent funding source for affordable housing, the bill has led to $128 million becoming available in funding and technical assistance grants to help local governments implement activities aimed at addressing the challenges of our housing crisis, which include updates to general plans, local process improvements, updates to zoning ordinances, infrastructure financing plans, and pre-approved architectural and site plans, among many others.

With applications for Technical Assistance grants due November 30, 2019, RSG wants to make sure that you are ready to take advantage of this funding source.  Per the Housing and Community Development Department, applicants must meet all of the threshold requirements for participation in the program as provided in the grant guidelines and listed below:

  • Housing element compliance – The applicant must have a housing element that has been adopted by the jurisdiction’s governing body by the deadline specified in the NOFA and subsequently determined to be in substantial compliance with state housing element law pursuant to Gov. Code Section 65585.

  •  Annual Progress Report (APR) on the housing element - The applicant must submit the APR to the Department as required by Gov. Code section 65400 for the current or prior year by the date established in the NOFA.

  • Nexus to accelerating housing production - The applicant must propose and document plans or processes that accelerate housing production. The application must demonstrate a significant positive effect on accelerating housing production through timing, cost, approval certainty, entitlement streamlining, feasibility, infrastructure capacity, or impact on housing supply and affordability.

  • State Planning and Other Planning Priorities - Applicants must demonstrate that the locality is consistent with State Planning or Other Planning Priorities. Consistency may be demonstrated through activities (not necessarily proposed for SB 2 funding) that were completed within the last five years.

 Whether it be an inquiry as to if your project qualifies or a question about the application process, RSG is here to answer all your questions! Contact Irlanda Martinez (imartinez@webrsg.com) with any inquiries regarding SB2.

Are Density Bonuses a Solution to the Housing Crisis?

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As the housing crisis remains front and center in legislative talks at both the state and local level, the presence of density bonuses can be seen in housing bills AB1763, AB1279 and SB50.  These three bills could ultimately increase density bonuses, concessions and incentives, overall allowing for the easier development of housing and possibly enticing developers into creating more affordable housing.  Below we have provided a brief overview of how density bonuses play a role in each bill.

  • AB1763 (Chiu; Planning and zoning: density bonuses: affordable housing). This bill would require a developer be awarded additional density bonuses, incentives, concessions, and height increases if 100% of the units in the development are targeted to lower income households.  Specifically, the development would now receive 4 incentives and concessions from what used to be only 3, a density bonus that is now 80% of the number of units for lower income households of which it used to be only 35%, and height and floor area increases and elimination of maximum density for those developments within ½ mile of a major “transit stop” or “high quality transit corridor”. 

  • AB1279 (Bloom; Planning and zoning: housing development: high-resource areas). This bill would require the Housing and Community Development Department to identify, with the feedback of stakeholders, areas that are considered low inclusion areas and label them as “high resource” areas.   Development projects occurring in this “high-resource” areas would then be deemed a “use by right” making them eligible to receive increased density bonuses.  Zoning changes would also allow for the development of multi-family homes in previously single-family zoning areas and would offer density bonuses to developers who include additional affordable units in residential use projects located in prime development locations.

    Density bonuses along with other incentives or concessions would also be granted for development projects in which some of the units offered were at an affordable housing cost, or affordable rent accessible to lower income and very low-income households based on the area median income.  This bill would also render the “use by right” development projects exempt from required CEQA approval.

  • SB50 (Wiener; Planning and Zoning: housing development incentives).  This bill will require local governments to grant “equitable communities incentives,” which reduce local zoning standards in jobs-rich and transit rich areas, if the development meets certain requirements including the residential development is either a jobs-rich housing project or transit rich housing project, located on a site that is zoned to allow “housing as an underlying use” in the zone, complies with all applicable labor, construction, employment, and wage standards as well as complies with all architectural design, demolition, impact fee, and community benefit standards, requirements, and/or prohibitions imposed by the local government, and remains affordable for 55 years for rental units and 45 years for units offered for sale, or abides by local inclusionary ordinances.

    Depending on whether a development is jobs rich or transit rich, the “equitable communities incentives” offered could include density waivers from maximum controls on density, minimum parking requirements greater than .5 parking spaces per unit, maximum height requirements less than 55 feet, maximum floor area ratio requirements less than 3.25, and up to three incentives and concessions under density bonus law. 

While SB50, AB1279 and AB1763 all aim to address the undeniable housing crisis through the use of density bonuses, some cities and counties may be wondering at what cost.  These bills are still moving through the legislative process.  If you’d like more information or to provide feedback to the legislature, please contact RSG Principal, Tara Matthews (tmatthews@webrsg.com).

Housing is a Hot Topic at the California Capitol

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In its February 2018 Statewide Housing Assessment, the California Housing and Community Development Department stated that 180,000 homes would need to be produced annually between 2015-2025 to keep up with projected population and household growth. This is a goal that will likely go unmet, as California has only built an average of 80,000 homes per year over the last 10 years. As a result, California legislators have introduced multiple housing bills, many of which are aimed at streamlining housing production, increasing the state’s ability to control land use at the local level, and developing financing tools to fund increased housing production. A few of these bills, most notably ACA 1, SCA 1, AB 68, and SB 9 will significantly impact the state’s ability to meet its housing target. Here is a brief summary of these bills:

·         ACA 1 is focused on providing an additional funding source to enable construction of affordable housing and infrastructure. The additional funding would be available at a local level and would be focused on "workforce housing" (up to 150% AMI), thereby including the “missing middle” that is often neglected in housing legislation.  ACA 1 accomplishes this by reducing the local vote threshold (from a two-thirds vote to a 55-percent majority) for approval of an ad valorem tax to service bond indebtedness incurred to fund the construction, reconstruction, rehabilitation, or replacement of public infrastructure or affordable housing.

ACA 1 also includes provisions requiring that annual performance audits be made available to the public and a citizens’ oversight committee be formed, allowing the public to track progress and hold the issuer accountable for expenditures related to applicable projects. However, lawmakers should consider the administrative burden that these accountability provisions may create, as operation expenses will not be a cost covered by debt issuance. Link to bill.

·         SCA 1 would streamline the approval process for affordable housing developers and municipalities. SCA 1 would repeal Article 34 of the California Constitution, which was enacted in 1950 and prohibits the development, construction, or acquisition of a low-rent housing project by any state public body until electors of the public body approve the project with a majority vote. By requiring voter approval, Article 34 has slowed the approval process and increased the cost of affordable housing drastically. Link to bill.

·         AB 68 seeks to increase residential housing density in California by requiring that streamlined approval be given to permit applications for the development of Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) and Junior Accessory Dwelling Units (JADUs). This bill also prohibits a local ordinance from imposing minimum lot size, lot coverage, or floor area ratio requirement on ADUs.  Link to bill.

·         SB 9 is a financing tool that seeks to incentivize investment in affordable housing development. This bill authorizes a developer that is awarded a low-income housing tax credit to sell that credit to investors for each taxable year the credit is allowed indefinitely, thereby removing a January 1, 2020 sunset provision in existing law. Therefore, this change spurs investment in affordable housing projects for a longer, indefinite period of time than current law allows. Link to bill.

Senate Bill 2 Planning Grants Available Now!

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Does your community need funding to come up with a local solution to the housing crisis? Good news, Senate Bill 2 (“SB2”) might be the answer to your needs! With the passage of SB2, $123 million have become available to assist local governments with the implementation of planning activities to accelerate housing production.

Our first look at SB2 was in 2017 when it was one of the 15 bills in the 2017 Legislative Housing Package. We learned then that it establishes a permanent funding source for affordable housing and is designed to help local governments tackle the challenges of our housing crisis. This will be done by providing funding and technical assistance for the implementation of qualifying activities. Such activities include, but are not limited to, updates to general plans, local process improvements, updates to zoning ordinances, infrastructure financing plans, and pre-approved architectural and site plans, among many others. Can any of these address the needs of your community?

If your jurisdiction is currently considering the implementation of planning activities to increase housing production, SB2 Technical Assistance grants may provide the necessary financial assistance to implement such actions. Still confused, or wondering if your project qualifies? RSG is here to answer all your questions! Contact Irlanda Martinez (imartinez@webrsg.com) with any inquiries regarding SB2. Awards range from a minimum of $25,000, to a maximum of $625,000, depending on population size. Applications are due November 30, 2019 but RSG is here to help now!

California 2018 Legislative Update

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Streamlining

AB 2162 – Supportive Housing by Right

  • Streamlined ministerial approval for projects that include supportive housing

  • CEQA not required for supportive housing projects that comply with local requirements, are 100% lower income and 25% of units are supportive.

AB 3194 – Housing Accountability Act

  • Limits local government determination of project inconsistency with zoning ordinance if the zoning doesn’t allow the maximum residential use, density or intensity in general plan.

  • Requires finding of a significant, quantifiable, direct, and unavoidable impact to disapprove or condition approval of projects if compliance with applicable, objective general plan, zoning, and subdivision standards and criteria.

SB 765 – SB 35 Clean Up

  • 100% affordable projects are exempt from the “skilled and trained workforce” labor requirement.

  • Only objective standards may be applied, including those related to subdivisions.

  • All local agency approvals for project are exempt from CEQA.

Density Bonus

AB 2753– Density Bonus Application

  • Jurisdictions must notify density bonus applicants in writing w/in 30 calendar days of application of completeness.

  • Local government must notify applicant of re-submitted density.

  • Bonus application in writing w/in 10 business days of resubmittal.

  • Local government has 60 days from complete application to approve or disapprove a density bonus.

  • Application deemed completed and density bonus granted if deadlines not met.

SB 1227 - Density Bonus for Student Housing

  • Requires up 35% density bonus projects with at least 20% of the total rental beds for very low income students enrolled in higher education at accredited institutions.

 Density Bonus (continued)

AB 2372 - Floor Area Ratio Bonus for Affordable Housing

  • Allows local government to adopt ordinance to grant floor area ratio (FAR) bonus in lieu of a density bonus. Project requirements include:

  • Multifamily development of 5+ units.

  • Located in urban infill site within transit priority area or within ½ mile of major transit stop.

  • Zoned for 20 units per acre.

  • Either 11% of affordable units for Very Low Income or 20 of affordable units for Low Income.

AB 1771 & SB 828 – RHNA

  • Requires modifications of regional RHNA allocation methodologies

  • RHNA must account for overcrowded housing units and cost burdened households, units lost related to a state of emergency

  • Gives HCD oversight authority over RHNA allocations

Fair Housing

AB 686– Housing Discrimination

  • Codifies recent HUD rules on jurisdictions’ obligation to further fair housing.

  • Housing elements and other planning documents must analyze how zoning programs/development approvals address/ reverse historical segregation patterns caused by past zoning practices.

CEQA Exemptions

AB 1804 – Infill Exemption for Counties

  • CEQA exemption applicable to unincorporated areas of counties.

  • Developments have minimum density and location requirements (must be urbanized area.)

AB 2341– Limited Aesthetic Impact Exemption

  • CEQA exemption for rehabilitation or replacement of existing, vacant structure (within building envelope) with residential development.

Charter Cities

AB 1333 – Charter Cities

  • Government Code provisions now apply to Charter Cities.

  • Consistency requirement applicable to general plan, specific plans and zoning.

  • No Net Loss” requirements apply to housing element inventory sites.

  • Specific findings required for growth control measures.

 Maps and Permits

AB 2913– Extension of building permits

  • Extends residential building permits from six months to one year.

  • One or more extensions of 180 days can be granted if justifiable cause

AB 2973– Subdivision map extensions (Central Valley)

  • 2 years for tentative subdivision maps in certain Central Valley jurisdictions 1771

Can Public Agency Land Use Help Save Us from the State Housing Crisis?

Along with being well known for its near perfect weather and plethora of offerings for tourists, California has now also become known for facing one of the worst housing crises in the nation.  A study done in 2016 by the McKinsey Global Institute found that California was ranked 49th out of all 50 states in housing units per capita and losing close to $140 billion per year due to the shortage of housing.  Based on California’s HCD Annual Progress Report data compiled in early 2018, more than 97% of the state’s jurisdictions are failing to meet the goals for developing affordable housing.  This harsh reality has left the state to ponder what resolutions could be utilized for tackling this dire dilemma.

Some recent proposed solutions to the housing crisis have come in the form of the 2017 Legislative Housing package signed into effect by Governor Jerry Brown in September of last year which includes 15 bills aimed at addressing the housing crisis.  However, with the housing crisis being as wide spread and serious as it is, it will likely require solutions in addition to recently passed legislature.  Circulate San Diego recently released a report examining the conversion of the underutilized Metropolitan Transit System parking lots into affordable housing as a solution to the state’s housing crisis.  Their report identified that this plan would not only generate up to 8,000 new homes with 3,000 of those designated for low income use, but the plan also aligns with similar policies and practices already in use by fellow transit agencies like the LA County MTA, Bay Area Rapid Transit and Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority.

The report from Circulate San Diego begs the question: Could an answer to the state housing crisis lie in the use of other under used public agency land too?  In addition to transit systems, other public agency properties including school districts, utility districts and water districts, may provide some respite in the struggle to reign in the housing crisis.  This possible solution does not come without it’s fair share of challenges which may include the need to enhance or remove the existing infrastructure, zoning restrictions and community engagement of the surrounding area which for low income and affordable housing specific development may give way to objections from those with the “not in my backyard” perspective.  Despite the possible challenges that may lie ahead with the use of public agency land for housing development, state officials may find this a solution worth considering in the struggle to resolve the state housing crisis.