The HomeWork: March 10, 2023
Welcome to the March 10, 2023 Main edition of The Homework, the official newsletter of California YIMBY — legislative updates, news clips, housing research and analysis, and the latest writings from the California YIMBY team.
News from Sacramento
With the Legislative session in full swing, Committee hearings are getting underway. One of our priority sponsored bills, SB 423 (Wiener), will be heard in the Senate Housing Committee on March 21, 2023. This bill will permanently extend the provisions of SB 35 (Wiener, 2017) and expand them to cover mixed-income housing developments. Additionally, SB 423 will remove the current coastal zone exemption in SB 35.
Another priority bill, SB 4 (Wiener), will also be heard in this upcoming Senate Housing Committee. This bill, the Affordable Housing on Faith Lands Act, provides a streamlined process for religious organizations and nonprofit colleges to develop affordable housing on their property.
For those hoping to register support for any bills in the upcoming Senate Housing Committee, the deadline for letters is March 15 at noon.
While we are still finalizing our legislative package, so far we are sponsoring the following priority housing bills for this legislative Session:
- SB 294 (Wiener) – This bill will stop the misuse by cities of floor area ratios and minimum lot size requirements to prevent the construction of multifamily buildings of more than 10 homes in areas already zoned to allow them. The bill expands on previous legislation, SB 478, that ended the abuse of these mechanisms for developments up to 10 homes.
- AB 309 (Lee) – This bill establishes the intent to create the California Housing Authority, an independent state agency with the ability to construct housing and lease it to a mix of household income ranges through both an ownership and rental model.
- AB 976 (Ting) – This bill will permanently extend the ability of property owners to build affordable, rental accessory dwelling units (ADUs), by extending the rental unit provisions of 2020’s AB 881, which expire in 2025. The provisions allow owners to build rental ADUs on the same property as their existing rental.
- AB 1633 (Ting) – This bill will end the inappropriate abuse of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) by jurisdictions that attempt to block new housing developments that have already been found in compliance with local and state land use and environmental regulations.
To stay current on what housing bills California YIMBY are sponsoring, supporting, and watching, you can now use our Abstract link to track with us.
We will have more housing legislation news in the coming weeks as bills are refined, amended, and scheduled for committee hearings. To stay up to date on committee action, and to receive alerts for bills and other legislative activities, join our Rapid Response team.
Housing Research & Analysis
Planning for Traffic: How “Junk Science” Harms Our Cities
Traffic impact analyses are an important feature of US land-use regulation. In theory, they estimate how much car and truck traffic might be generated by new homes or businesses, allowing regulators to charge developers the fees and other concessions necessary to mitigate their impact on public infrastructure.
Yet, as pointed out in Are Traffic Studies “Junk Science” That Don’t Belong in Court? in the Journal of the American Planning Association, these studies are only a step above “junk science,” potentially leading to poor planning outcomes.
- Transportation impact analyses (TIAs) are often used to estimate traffic and provide the legal basis for mandating costly traffic management measures.
- Yet TIAs are often based on “junk science,” depending on out-of-date data and questionable assumptions, and have increasingly fallen out of favor with planning professionals.
- Courts should approach such analyses with higher critical scrutiny, especially where TIAs are being used to justify the denial of new housing, or lead to costly infrastructure upgrades.
When the “No Parking” Sign Applies to Your Home
California is in the throes of a worsening homelessness crisis. While street homelessness – people living in tents, cardboard boxes, and other makeshift structures – receives the bulk of the attention, half of all unhoused people live out of cars, vans, and RVs.
In response, many municipalities have adopted ordinances that criminalize vehicular homelessness. In a new paper in the Journal of the American Planning Association, planning scholars Christopher Gianmarino, Madeline Brozen, and Evelyn Blumenberg of the University of California—Los Angeles study the geography of such ordinances across Los Angeles County, and suggest alternative policy responses.
- Homelessness is on the rise, and this includes vehicular homelessness. Roughly half of all people experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles County live out of a car, van, or RV.
- All but four jurisdictions in Los Angeles County have adopted ordinances that criminalize vehicular homelessness. Such restrictions rarely reduce vehicular homelessness, but rather, merely shift the location of — rather than addressing — the crisis.
- The authors suggest that municipalities should instead invest in safe parking programs (SPPs), which offer persons living out of vehicles the opportunity to park in a place with on-site security, sanitation, and services.
- Is California’s billion-dollar homelessness strategy working? | Grid
- California has nearly 100 new housing laws. Are they fixing the affordability crisis? | East Bay Times
- Newsom is blasting CEQA. What is it and why does it matter? | SJ Mercury News
- Gavin Newsom is talking tough on CEQA. Let’s see some action | SF Chronicle
- The homeownership gap between Black and white households hits its widest rate in a decade | NBC News
- What’s working and what’s next in California’s fight for affordable housing? | capradio
- Opinion: I have slept on sidewalks so I know what might help end homelessness. A home. | SD Union-Tribune
- US teachers grapple with a growing housing crisis: ‘We can’t afford rent’ | California | The Guardian
- California is desperate for affordable housing. How union conflicts are delaying it | Sacramento Bee
- Will California’s misused environmental law finally be reformed? | CalMatters
- Undoing the past: Lawmakers seek to mend California neighborhoods sliced by highways | CalMatters
- How much should California spend to build up public transit? | CalMatters
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