Welcome to the November 22, 2022 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 nearly a third of the legislature turning over in 2022, it was critical to ensure that newly elected legislators would support a pro-housing agenda and help us continue the policy success we had in Sacramento this year. The California YIMBY Victory Fund endorsed housing champions in several key open seats in the state legislature, with a particular focus on building power in Southern California.

Our victorious candidates include Assemblymember-elect Juan Carrillo (AD-39), Senator-elect Caroline Menjivar (SD-20), Senator-elect Lola Smallwood-Cuevas (SD-28) and Senator-elect Catherine Blakespear (SD-38). Several more candidates we endorsed are still in very close races with ballots still remaining to be counted. Overall, at least 39 of our endorsed candidates won their races. We’re looking forward to working with these and the other newly elected legislators to address California’s housing shortage and affordability crisis.


Housing Research & Analysis

To Remedy, or Not to Remedy – That Is the Question

A new paper by UC Davis School of Law student Jordan Wright unravels the myriad complexities of California’s “Builder’s Remedy,” a rarely-used legal practice that may (or may not) greatly accelerate new homebuilding across the state.

The Builder’s Remedy is an obscure provision of the state’s Housing Accountability Act. Its stated purpose is to enable homebuilders to bypass local land use regulations and restrictions when a local government’s Housing Element is out of compliance with state requirements. But the application of the Builder’s Remedy has never been tested in court, and may conflict with other statutes.

Key takeaways:

  1. As Wright explains, “nobody has ever settled which development standards are eliminated by the builder’s remedy and which are preserved by the savings clause” in the Housing Accountability Act (HAA), and “the looming uncertainties in the coaction of these provisions deter developers who may otherwise pursue builder’s remedy project approvals.”

  2. It turns out that this was never originally intended to be in question. The HAA was quite clear that the Builder’s Remedy superseded local development standards “after a 2004 amendment inadvertently removed crucial language which linked a city’s ability to apply development conditions to its having adopted a housing element.”

  3. Courts can and should consider the clearly documented legislative intent to clear up this uncertainty and “construe the HAA broadly in the interest of housing.”
READ MORE »

The Model Says: “All of the above”

The UC Berkeley Terner Center for Housing Innovation has released a new Housing Policy Dashboard that enables researchers and policymakers to simulate various policy scenarios for increasing California’s housing supply.

Accompanied with a paper by Casey et al (2022) that models development “proformas” (the financial calculations that determine a building’s viability) with parcel-level data from the City of Los Angeles, the dashboard’s initial findings offer major implications for housing policy reform.

Key takeaways:

  1. While six different policy scenarios were modeled, none of them were enough to meet the city’s state-mandated goals under the Regional Housing Need Allocation (RHNA). Thus, “no individual policy change will be sufficient to make up for the city’s significant housing shortfall.”

  2. However, some policies likely do affect the amount and location of new housing construction. For example, streamlining the permitting process would increase the amount of new housing in high-resource areas, while increasing density citywide would increase the amount of new housing built near public transit.

  3. Eliminating parking requirements can encourage more new housing projects without necessarily incentivizing larger projects.
READ MORE »

 


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