2019 California Housing Legislation Highlights

Alfred Twu
Apr 4, 2019 · 11 min read

Over 200 bills have been introduced by state legislators this year to tackle California’s housing crisis. Here are some of the bigger ones:

*Updated as of Oct 11, 2019**
The legislative season has wrapped up and bills that have passed both the Senate and Assembly are now at the Governor’s desk. Governor has until Oct. 13 to sign bills into law.

PDF of the Sept 25 version here. Feel free to share!

Download 8.5x11 PDF of August 8 version here

Download the 8.5x11 PDF of April 4 version

Note: Unless otherwise noted, details are as of August 8, 2019. Bills change as they go through hearings, click link on bill title to view the current text on the official state legislature website.

Faster Approvals

AB 1484 (Grayson) Mitigation Fee Act: housing developments.: STALLED
Development fees published throughout project approval process. Makes it easier to build housing by reducing uncertainty.
Status as of August 8: Passed Assembly, at Senate Appropriations Committee. Bill was amended to remove the part prohibiting changes in fees during the approval process.
Status as of Sept 25: Failed to make it out of Senate Appropriations

AB 1485 (Wicks) & AB 1706 (Quirk) Housing development: incentives.: AB1485 PASSED, AB1706 FAILED
Incentives and faster approvals for moderate-income housing built with prevailing (union) wage labor. Applies in the 9-county Bay Area.
AB1485 Status as of September 25: Passed Assembly and Senate, now at Governor’s desk. Status as of October 9, 2019: Signed into law by the Governor
AB1706 Status as of August 8: Failed to make it out of Committees.

SB 330 (Skinner) Housing Crisis Act of 2019: PASSED
Faster approvals for housing & zoning changes; statewide ban on downzoning. Also bans housing moratoriums or population caps, as well as fees on low-income housing.
Status as of August 8: Passed Senate, at Assembly Appropriations Committee. Bill was amended to remove the part that would have eliminated parking requirements. Phase-in of statewide ban on downzoning changed from 1/1/2018 to 1/1/2020.
Status as of September 25: Passed Assembly and Senate, now at Governor’s desk.
Status as of October 9, 2019: Signed into law by the Governor

Upzoning

SB 50 (Wiener) Planning and zoning: housing development: incentives. : DELAYED TO 2020
Upzoning near jobs, good schools, and mass transit. To avoid displacement, properties that currently or recently have tenants are not upzoned. Low income sensitive communities near transit are given time to propose their own community plan and zoning through a community process.
Status as of August 8: Amended to allow 4plexes in most of the state. Counties with population under 600,000. Not brought to a vote in Senate Appropriations Committee, will return in 2020.

AB 1763 (Chiu) Planning and zoning: density bonuses: affordable housing. : PASSED
80% density bonus for affordable housing. Current law only provides a 35% bonus. No density limits at all within 1/2 mile of a major transit stop for affordable housing.
Status as of August 8: Passed Assembly, at Senate Appropriations Committee. Amended to also eliminate parking requirements for supportive or special needs housing. Also amended so that projects that are 80% low income and 20% moderate income qualify.
Status as of September 25: Passed Assembly and Senate, now at Governor’s desk.
Status as of October 9, 2019: Signed into law by the Governor

Shelters

SB 48 (Wiener) Interim housing intervention developments.: PASSED
By-right approval for homeless shelters. This means that if a homeless shelter is proposed to be built and it meets existing zoning codes, the city has to allow it.
Status as of August 8: While SB48 was not brought to a vote in Senate Appropriations, its text became AB101 and was passed as a trailer bill during the budget process. Signed into law by the Governor on July 31, 2019.

Tax Policy

AB 723 (Wicks and Bonta) Low-income housing incentives: leased rental housing: Counties of Alameda and Contra Costa.: FAILED
Property tax exemption for housing leased for 35+ years to nonprofits in Alameda or Contra Costa County. Rent in such buildings would be limited to 30% of a low-income tenant’s income.
Status as of August 8: Not happening. Gut-and-amend was used to turn this into a bill to allow Fremont to raise transaction and use taxes.

SCA 3 (Hill) Property taxation: change in ownership: inheritance exclusion.: FAILED
Ends inheritance of Prop 13 tax break, unless heir lives in the house. Currently, the assessed value that is used to set property taxes is based on the original purchase price plus a 2% increase per year, even if the market value of a building has gone up faster. As a state constitutional amendment, this would go to the ballot for voter approval.
Status as of Sept 25: Failed to make it out of the State Senate Inactive File.

Tenant Protections

AB36 (Bloom) Residential tenancies: rent control.: FAILED, but might come back as a ballot measure
Costa-Hawkins reform. AB-36 would allow cities to extend rent control to houses, condos, as well as new buildings after 10 years from date of completion. Exemption for landlords that own two or fewer homes in a city.
Status as of August 8: Failed to make it out of committee. Note that a ballot measure with similar text, the Rental Affordability Act, has been filed. More on that in this article.

SB 529 (Durazo) Tenant associations: eviction for cause: withholding payment of rent.: FAILED
Protections for tenant organizing. Prohibits landlords from evicting tenants in retaliation for organizing. Allows tenants to hold 30-day rent strikes to protest lack of maintenance, etc.
Status as of August 8: Failed by 1 vote when voted on by the full State Senate.

AB 1481 (Bonta) Tenancy termination: just cause.: MERGED INTO AB1482
Statewide Just Cause limits to evictions. Limits evictions to “Just Causes” such as not paying rent, using the unit for criminal activity, repeated nuisances, major renovation, or demolition. Owner move-in evictions only allowed if tenant agrees to allow them in initial lease, completely banned if if the tenant is 60 years of age or older, disabled, or catastrophically ill.
Status as of August 8: While AB1481 failed to make it through the Assembly, most of its provisions were amended into AB1482.

AB 1482 (Chiu) Tenancy: rent caps.: PASSED
Rent cap: Statewide limit to annual rent increases. Also known as anti-gouging, this cap would apply statewide to all homes not already covered by a stronger local rent control ordinance. The max annual rent increase allowed would be inflation (CPI) + 7%, 10% max.
Status as of August 8: Passed Assembly, at Senate Appropriations Committee. Now also includes most of what was in AB1481, though the just cause protections only cover tenants who have rented in the same unit for more than a year. Exempts new buildings for 10 years, and detached houses owned by natural persons (not corporations) that own 10 or fewer detached houses are also exempt.
Status as of October 8, 2019: Signed into law by the Governor

AB 1110 (Friedman) Rent increases: noticing.: PASSED
Longer notice required for large rent increases: 90 days for 10%+ increases (current requirement is 60 days)
Status as of September 25: SB5 Passed Assembly and Senate, now at Governor’s desk. Amended to remove lengthened notice for under-10% increases. Extra-long notice for 15%+ increases also removed.
Status as of October 8, 2019: Signed into law by the Governor

Move-In Assistance

AB 437 (Wood) Move-In Loan Program.: STALLED
Move-In Loans for security deposit and first month’s rent.
Status as of August 8: Passed Assembly, in Senate
Status as of September 25: Failed to make it out of Senate committee.

SB 329 (Mitchell) Discrimination: housing: source of income.: PASSED
Requires landlords to accept Section 8 vouchers.
Status as of October 8, 2019: Signed into law by the Governor

AB 53 (Jones-Sawyer and Bonta): Rental housing discrimination: applications: criminal records: FAILED
Ban the Box: no questions on criminal record on initial rental applications. Background check can only be conducted after initial application has been accepted.
Status as of August 8: Failed to make it out of committees.

Legal Aid

SB 18 (Skinner) Keep Californians Housed Act.: PASSED (with significant changes)
Protects tenants in foreclosed buildings from eviction for 90 days. Previously it was written to funds legal aid and rent assistance.
Status as of August 8: Signed into law by the Governor on July 30, 2019.

Funding

AB 857 (Chiu and Santiago) Public banks.: PASSED
Allows cities to create Public Banks. These banks would provide loans for affordable housing and other public infrastructure.
Status as of October 8, 2019: Signed into law by the Governor

AB 1487 (Chiu) San Francisco Bay area: housing development: financing.: PASSED
Creates Bay Area Housing Finance Authority (BAHFA), a regional entity to raise money via ballot measure for affordable housing.
Status as of August 8: Passed Assembly, at Senate Appropriations Committee. Housing Alliance for the Bay Area (HABA) was renamed Bay Area Housing Finance Authority (BAHFA). Details on funding mechanisms and amount also revised to be pending.
Status as of October 8, 2019: Signed into law by the Governor

AB-10 Income taxes (Chiu, Bont a, Maienschein, Reyes, and Wicks): credits low-income housing: farmworker housing.: STALLED
Expands Low Income Housing Tax Credit funding program by $500 million per year. The LIHTC program is one of the main sources of funding for affordable housing. Cities often use tax credits as “matching funds” to multiply local funding to get several times more homes built.
Status as of August 8: Passed Assembly, now in Senate committees. Amended to only be in effect 2020–2024.
Status as of September 25: Failed to make it out of Senate committee.

AB-11 ( Chiu, Aguiar-Curry, Bloom, Bonta, Daly, Eduardo Garcia, Gloria, Holden, Irwin, Mullin, Santiago, Ting, and Wicks) Community Redevelopment Law of 2019: FAILED
SB-5 (Beall, McGuire) Affordable Housing and Community Development Investment Program.: PENDING
Creates new local funding agencies for affordable housing, infrastructure, and community investment. Prior to 2011, redevelopment agencies were a major source of affordable housing funding. Governor Brown eliminated them in 2011 due to a budget deficit. AB-11 and SB-5 would create similar organizations with a greater focus on housing and infrastructure.
Status as of August 8: AB11 failed to make it out of committees.
Status as of September 25: SB5 Passed Assembly and Senate, now at Governor’s desk.

Public Land

AB-1486 (Ting) Local agencies: surplus land.: PASSED
Surplus public land for affordable housing.
Status as of September 25: Passed Assembly and Senate, now at Governor’s desk.
Status as of October 9, 2019: Signed into law by the Governor

Data

AB 724 (Wicks) Rental property data registry.: FAILED
Creates rental housing database with information on unit sizes, rents, evictions, ownership, vacancies, etc.
Status as of August 8: Failed to make it out of Assembly committees

AB 1483 (Grayson) Housing data: collection and reporting.: PASSED
Cities and counties required to publish zoning and development fee info online. State government tasked to develop tools to assist, and also better coordinate tracking of housing production.
Status as of September 25: Passed Assembly and Senate, now at Governor’s desk. Amended to be more limited in scope. Earlier versions had more data collection and mapping at state level.
Status as of October 9, 2019: Signed into law by the Governor

Transport

AB 725 (Wicks) General plans: housing element: above moderate-income housing: suburban and metropolitan jurisdictions.: FAILED
Limits use of sprawl as way to meet housing planning goals. In suburban and metropolitan areas, only 20% of market rate housing development would be allowed to be planned as single family housing zones.
Status as of August 8: Failed to make it out of Assembly committees

AB 1568 (McCarty) Housing law compliance: withholding of transportation funds.: FAILED
Ties transport funding to housing production. Cities or counties that don’t plan for their share of housing production would lose state transportation funding.
Status as of August 8: Failed to make it out of Assembly committees

Accessory Dwelling Units

SB 13 (Wieckowski) Accessory dwelling units.: PASSED
Limits fees and restrictions on building new accessory dwelling units. For example, ADUs created by converting a garage would not be required to have replacement parking.
Status as of September 25: Passed Assembly and Senate, now at Governor’s desk.
Status as of October 9, 2019: Signed into law by the Governor

AB 68 (Ting) Land use: accessory dwelling units.: PASSED
Eliminates minimum lot size requirements for adding an ADU. Also requires proposed ADUs to be approved or denied within 60 days. Allows ADUs to be added inside existing apartment buildings (typically via conversion of parking garages).
Status as of September 25: Passed Assembly and Senate, now at Governor’s desk.
Status as of October 9, 2019: Signed into law by the Governor

AB 69 (Ting) Land use: accessory dwelling units.: STALLED
Would create new building code standards for small homes under 800 square feet, allowing greater cost efficiencies.
Status as of September 25:Passed Assembly, stuck in Senate committees.

Ballot Measures

SCA 1(Allen and Wiener) Public housing projects.: Continued to 2020
Eliminates requirement that public housing be approved by ballot measure. Currently cities have to pass ballot measures every few years to authorize new quantities of affordable housing. Also known as Article 34 repeal. As a state constitutional amendment, this would go to the ballot for voter approval.
Status as of September 25: Passed Senate, but did not get scheduled for Assembly vote in the 2019 legislative season. Continues to 2020.

ACA 1 (Aguiar-Curry) Local government financing: affordable housing and public infrastructure: voter approval.
Allows bonds for housing & infrastructure to pass with a 55% majority. Currently the threshold is a 2/3 majority. As a state constitutional amendment, this would go to the ballot for voter approval.
Status as of September 25: Failed to pass in Assembly, 44 yes –20 no –15 not voting (needed 2/3 of votes — 54 yes votes- to pass)

Sounds exciting? Call the Governor at 916–445–2841 or contact the Governor’s office online at this link

Thanks!
— Alfred

Alfred Twu

Written by

Artist and Designer in Berkeley, California

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