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Two Bills to Help Meet State Housing Goals Clear Senate


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By Jorge Casuso

May 21, 2024 -- Two housing bills that remove barriers to housing construction in the coastal zone and impose stiffer penalties on cities that fail to comply with State housing laws have easily cleared the Senate.

Introduced by Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), SB 951 and SB 1037 are meant to help the State meet its goal of building 2.5 million homes by 2030.

SB 951 will "aid cities’ efforts to meet state housing goals" by "resolving unnecessary permitting delays in the disproportionately low-housing Coastal Zone," according to Wiener's office.

While the Coastal Commission plays "an important role" in protecting natural resources, Wiener said, it "should not be in the business of second-guessing -— and frequently delaying or undermining —- local housing decisions in urbanized areas that are not natural resources.”

“We need local planning departments and state housing agencies to handle housing permitting," Wiener's office said. "SB 951 eases the process for housing that has no effect on coastal resources."

“By boosting housing production in the coastal zone, SB 951 will improve quality of life for Californians while slashing our climate emissions," Wiener said.

Sponsored by San Francisco Mayor London Breed, the bill also "clarifies that the Commission does not have jurisdiction to appeal projects in San Francisco that are within the permitted uses for a specific parcel," according to Wiener's office.

The added "layers of discretionary permitting" have contributed to the "affordability crisis" near the coast, which "has had a profound impact on (its) racial and economic diversity, according to Wiener's office.

Wiener cites a Stanford Environmental Law Journal report that found that "within one kilometer of coastal access, white populations increase by 25 percent."

Meanwhile, Latino populations fall 52 percent, and Black populations fall 60 percent. Coastal communities, the study found, also have, on average, 18 percent fewer households below the poverty line.

SB 951 passed 35 to 0 and will had to the Assembly.

The second bill, SB 1037, introduced by Wiener and sponsored by Attorney General Rob Bonta fines cities that egregiously violate state housing laws.

The bill "strengthens the Attorney General’s ability to enforce state housing law with fines against cities that commit egregious violations of the law," according to Wiener's office.

"This heightened enforcement will create stronger incentives for cities to comply with state housing laws."

The bill applies only in jurisdictions that "have acted arbitrarily" and "not to cities that make good faith errors," according to Wiener's office.

The fines "will be deposited into an affordable housing fund for use in the offending city."

“To confront California’s deep housing crisis, we’ve enacted robust laws to make it easier and faster to build new homes," Wiener said. "Strong enforcement of those laws is essential.

“By providing the Attorney General better tools for swift accountability when cities engage in egregious violations, SB 1037 helps clear the path for California to meet its housing goals.”

SB 1037 passed 23 to 9. Both bills must be approved by the house by August 31.

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