Legislature Heads Home after Failing to Advance Significant Housing Reform

Claims that this would be the year of housing quickly fizzled when the Legislature’s lack of action left many important housing reform bills to die. It is news to no one that housing is enormously expensive in California, yet it remains a battle to pass even incremental legislative reforms to tackle the problem. The starkest example is the failure of SB 1120 (Senate Leader Atkins), which would have allowed construction of duplexes on sites zoned for single family homes. It passed the Assembly, but not in enough time for the Senate to concur. This is unacceptable and Californians can’t afford to wait for the state to take action. Of the 50 U.S. cities with the highest rents, 33 are in California. This is pushing people out of their homes and farther away from economic opportunity, further deepening income, wealth, and racial inequality in a state that proclaims to take these matters seriously. It is an understatement to say that the Legislature’s inaction is disappointing.

The Council will continue to push for reforms to the state’s housing laws and looks forward to brainstorming next year’s strategy at the October meeting of the Housing and Sustainable Development Committee. Two Council-sponsored bills did advance and are now awaiting approval by Governor Newsom: AB 69 (Ting) that establishes a new program in the State Treasurer’s Office (STO) to help homeowners finance additional housing units, including accessory dwelling units (ADUs) and junior accessory dwelling units (JADUs); and, AB 831 (Grayson), which makes changes to the process for development projects approved by the streamlined, ministerial process created by SB 35. The Council sent letters to Governor Newsom asking that he sign these two important bills into law, and we appreciate his commitment to advancing meaningful housing reforms this year. To engage in the Council’s housing policy work, please contact Senior Vice President Matt Regan.

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