An Rx for the Housing Shortage?

Nov 9, 2022 | Blog, News

A new primer on California’s “builder’s remedy” by UC Davis law professor Chris Elmendorf explains the inner workings of a once-obscure state law that’s now making national headlines for potentially accelerating new housing in cities across the state: The “Builder’s Remedy.”

Key takeaways:

  1. When a city’s General Plan falls out of compliance with state-mandated Housing Element law, the Housing Accountability Act (HAA) and Housing Crisis Act of 2019 provide a “builder’s remedy” – i.e., a path for new homebuilding to proceed – by effectively suspending local zoning rules for all new housing, of any size, that has at least 20 percent low-income units, or 100 percent moderate-income units.
  2. This legal remedy has never been tested in court, and there are many uncertainties, particularly with respect to environmental review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
  3. To address these ambiguities in the law, Attorney General Bonta and the state legislature should strengthen the builder’s remedy, and consider replacing it with a statewide density bonus for non-compliant jurisdictions.