Supporting Legislation

SB 4 – Affordable Housing on Faith Lands Act

Status: Signed Into Law

SB 4, the Affordable Housing on Faith Lands Act, provides a streamlined process for religious organizations and nonprofit colleges to develop affordable housing on their property.

Many of California’s faith-based organizations and non-profit colleges are located on lands where multifamily housing is expressly prohibited by local zoning codes. In order to build homes on these lands, they must first rezone the land – a time-consuming and expensive proposition that can add years to the process of building the affordable homes Californians need.

The rezoning process also increases the risk and uncertainty for housing, since such applications are subject to an unlimited number of appeals and lawsuits from neighbors who may oppose housing on the site. This risk and uncertainty is a major driver of skyrocketing housing costs for all Californians.

SB 4 will make it legal for faith-based institutions and non-profit colleges to build affordable, multi-family homes on lands they own by streamlining the permitting process and overriding local zoning restrictions. The bill also guarantees “by-right” approval of new homes, as long as they are consistent with all objective building standards and comply with existing environmental protections. Finally, the bill will end the misuse of the California Environmental Quality Act, which is often invoked to block these types of homes.

SB 4 will help our state’s construction workforce rise and thrive through the following provisions:

  • Construction workers on SB 4 projects will be paid prevailing wages on projects with over 10 homes.
  • On projects with at least 50 homes, contractors must offer apprentices employment and pay for health care for construction workers and their dependents.

The pro-worker provisions help create new opportunities for construction workers while enhancing the state’s ability to grow the skilled workforce necessary to build the homes we need.

Any housing built under SB 4 must be deed-restricted affordable for a minimum of 55 years for rental properties, and 45 years for homes offered for ownership. Density and height restrictions must align with appropriate standards for affordable housing under existing housing element law.

Updates: SB 4 passed the State Senate on 5/30/23 . It passed the Assembly on 9/7/23. It passed the State Senate in a concurrence vote on 9/11/23. SB 4 was signed into law by Governor Newsom on 10/11/23.

Author: Wiener (D, SD 11)

Co-sponsors: Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California (NPH), Southern California Association of Non-Profit Housing (SCANPH), Jewish Public Affairs Committee of California (JPAC), California Conference of Carpenters, Inner City Law Center