The Homework Newsletter

The HomeWork: April 24, 2024

April 24, 2024

Welcome to the April 24, 2024 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

The legislative session in Sacramento is in full swing, and within the last few weeks, we had many of our sponsored and high-priority bills pass through their respective Committees:

Sponsored Bills:

  • SB 937 (Wiener): This bill will authorize deferrals of impact fees and extends entitlements in order to provide developers tools to pencil out projects
    • Status: Passed the Senate Housing Committee and has been referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee.
  • SB 1211 (Skinner): This bill will encourage more ADUs on multifamily properties by providing more flexibility around how ADUs can be built alongside existing multifamily housing
    • Status: Passed the Senate Local Government and has been referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee.
  • SB 1123 (Caballero): This bill updates SB 684 (2023) to make it legal to build up to 10 homes on single-family zoned vacant lots.
    • Status: Passed the Senate Local Government and has been referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee.
  • AB 1820 (Schiavo):This bill will require cities to provide a precise estimate of the fees required for a proposed housing development at the time of building permit application.
    • Status: Passed Assembly Housing Committee and has been referred to Assembly Local Government.
  • AB 2580 (Wicks): This bill will require local governments to monitor how new historic designations could impact their ability to meet housing needs under existing state law, and report new historic buildings and districts to the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) during the Annual Progress Report of the Regional Housing Needs Assessment process.
    • Status: Passed the Assembly Housing Committee and will next be heard in the Assembly Local Government Committee.

High-Priority Bills:

  • SB 1462 (Glazer): This bill will reduce financing costs and risks for new condominium projects by allowing developers to use deposits made by buyers during the pre-sale process to cover construction costs.
    • Status: After a second roll call, SB 1462 passed the Senate Business, Professions and Economic Development Committee and has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
  • SB 1210 (Skinner): This bill will help to eliminate uncertainty around utility connection fees by requiring that fees are clear, transparent, and posted online.
    • Status: Passed Senate Local Government and has been referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee.
  • AB 2144 (Grayson): This bill will reduce uncertainty around new home building by requiring local governments to provide evidence in their Annual Progress Reports, required by the state’s Regional Housing Needs Assessment, that they are complying with existing laws regarding transparency in impact fees.
    • Status: Passed both the Assembly Housing and Local Government Committee.

Our only sponsored bill that hasn’t gotten a hearing yet is AB 3057 (Wilson). This bill is a technical fix to existing law that will grant local Junior ADU ordinances the same exemption to environmental review that is already granted to standard ADU ordinances. It is scheduled to be heard in the Assembly Natural Resources Committee on April 22nd.

April 26, 2023 is the last day for policy committees to hear and report fiscal bills introduced in their respective chambers to fiscal committees.

To stay current on what housing bills California YIMBY is sponsoring, supporting, and watching, you can now use our Abstract link to track with us.

Stay tuned to future editions of The Homework, and follow the California YIMBY Twitter channel, @cayimby, to stay up to date on developments on the legislative session and related news.

Housing Research & Analysis

Housing Policy Is (Still) Climate Policy

An abundance of climate and urban planning research has shown that urban sprawl is responsible for a significant share of global climate pollution. Sprawl requires longer trips in private vehicles, measured in “vehicle miles traveled,” or VMT. It also increases “embodied” carbon in the built environment, through the use of more building, infrastructure, and related materials; it increases building energy use; and it consumes undeveloped lands that often serve as natural carbon sinks.

In “Why State Land Use Reform Should Be a Priority Climate Lever for America,” Rocky Mountain Institute researchers analyze what effect shifting new housing development away from sprawl, and concentrating new homes in dense, low-VMT areas might have on climate pollution, finding a variety of positive effects.

Key Takeaways:

  • State-level land use reform to encourage compact development can reduce pollution by 70 million tons of carbon dioxide annually by 2033.
  • Such reform would have a greater effect than 60 percent of the country adopting California’s 100 percent zero emission passenger vehicle goal by 2035.
  • Half the emissions reduction would come from reduced vehicle travel, a third would come from reduced vehicle manufacturing, and the remainder would come from the preservation of natural carbon sinks and the construction of more-efficient buildings.

The Tradeoffs of Inclusionary Zoning: A Closer Look

Inclusionary Zoning (IZ), the practice of requiring home builders to set aside some units in new housing construction to be rented at below-market rates (BMR) to low-income households, is a popular strategy to increase the production of affordable housing while reducing or eliminating the outlay of public housing subsidies.

However, IZ comes with important tradeoffs – notably, lower overall housing production, as explored in a report that Shane Phillips recently released through the Terner Center at UC Berkeley: Modeling Inclusionary Zoning’s Impact on Housing Production in Los Angeles.

Key takeaways

  • Changing IZ requirements in Los Angeles has a significant impact on housing production. Higher IZ requirements lead to diminishing returns in BMR housing production, and substantial reductions in overall housing production.
  • BMR units produced through IZ represent a large private subsidy of affordable housing. However, even small increases in rent growth in the unrestricted rental market can negate the value of these private subsidies.
  • The study suggests that policymakers should focus on land use reforms to increase overall housing production and use other tools, such as increased public subsidies, to produce BMR homes and assist lower-income households.

Houser Headlines

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