California finally trying to reduce barriers to housing

And I don’t mean “gentrification” or “redlining” or whatever. I mean the real problem: over-regulation.

The California State Assembly recently passed SB-35 Planning and zoning: affordable housing: streamlined approval process. The bill aims to reduce the opportunities that NIMBYs and other anti-development advocates have to block housing, which seems to show that some people in the California government are starting to wake up to the fact that the housing crisis may be caused by policies they have enacted in the past.

From the text of SB-35:

This bill would authorize a development proponent to submit an application for a multifamily housing development, which satisfies specified planning objective standards, that is subject to a streamlined, ministerial approval process, as provided, and not subject to a conditional use permit. The bill would require a local government to notify the development proponent in writing if the local government determines that the development conflicts with any of those objective standards by a specified time; otherwise, the development is deemed to comply with those standards. The bill would limit the authority of a local government to impose parking standards or requirements on a streamlined development approved pursuant to these provisions, as provided.

Basically, this bill requires that a streamlined approval process be developed that, as long as a project meets certain standards, pretty much guarantee that a project will be approved. This being California, there’s a lot of unnecessary standards to meet, but hey, it’s a start.

This provision stands out to me:

(7) The development is not located on a site where any of the following apply:
(A) The development would require the demolition of the following types of housing:

(iii) Housing that has been occupied by tenants within the past 10 years.
(B) The site was previously used for housing that was occupied by tenants that was demolished within 10 years before the development proponent submits an application under this section.

From what I can tell, this section will disqualify any parcels with existing housing from being developed into new housing, if I’m reading this right. This bill, then, appears to be targeted at converting commercial and industrial lots, as well as empty housing lots, to residential areas. As long as I’m reading it right, that means editorials like this one are overblown and that the authors of that editorial probably didn’t even read the law.

It’s nice to see that California is taking baby steps towards actually fixing their housing problem. Maybe sometime in the future, California will stop trying to price poor people out of housing!

Image Credit: User PublicCo on Pixabay