On September 16, 2021, Governor Newsom signed a trio of housing bills aimed at streamlining the development of housing throughout the state. SB 8 (Skinner) is an extension of the Housing Crisis Act of 2019. SB 9 (Atkins) is a comprehensive reworking of density on existing residential parcels. SB 10 (Skinner) provides local jurisdictions the option to streamline approvals for certain multi-family projects. This is part one in a series of Legal Alerts analyzing the changes in California’s housing laws brought about by these bills. In this Legal Alert, we will be taking a closer look at SB 8.
First and foremost, SB 8 extends the Housing Crisis Act of 2019 (“HCA”) from its original expiration date of January 1, 2025 to now expire partially on January 1, 2030 and partially on January 1, 2034. SB 8 also provides some additional clarifications of the HCA. For instance, the HCA now includes a definition of “affordable housing project” to clarify it applies to those developments that are subject to a recorded affordability restriction for at least 55 years that applies to all units, except for managers’ units. SB 8 also clarifies the definition of “housing development projects” to which the HCA applies. Adding to its existing definition, housing development projects now include the following: 1) projects that involve no discretionary approvals; 2) projects that include both discretionary and non-discretionary approvals; and 3) projects that propose to develop a single dwelling unit. SB 8 makes minor changes to the definition of “objective design standard” which impacts the requirements a local jurisdiction can impose on a development project that otherwise complies with the HCA.
In addition to these changes, SB 8 also modifies how existing dwelling units that are to be replaced with a new project through the HCA are protected and how their tenants must be offered relocation or other assistance.
Finally, SB 8 clarifies how the HCA’s “no net loss in residential capacity” requirement functions. SB 8 clarifies that changes in land use or zoning that are accomplished by initiative are also subject to the “no net loss” requirement. Furthermore, SB 8 defines what it means for changes in land use or zoning to recoup any loss in residential capacity to be accomplished concurrently. For changes done by a legislative act, the change to increase residential capacity must be approved at the same meeting as the change that reduces residential capacity. For changes made by initiative, the change to increase residential capacity must be effective at the same time as the change that reduces residential capacity. Finally, a small exception for this concurrency requirement is made if the reduction in residential capacity is requested by the developer of a housing development project, in which case the local jurisdiction has 180 days to replace any loss in a residential capacity.
As with any changes in state housing laws, the impacts of SB 8 on specific housing development projects will vary from city to city and county to county based on the unique market demands and regulatory landscape of each local jurisdiction.