Blogging Bayport Alameda

October 2, 2017

Show me your teeth

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:02 am

On Friday, Governor Jerry Brown signed a raft of bills that are designed to help out with the housing crisis.  Most people have heard about some of the larger bills, particularly the one that will eventually go to the voters for approval (SB 4, $4 billion bond for affordable housing) and the one that places a transfer fee on non residential real estate transactions.  The most contentious bill that received a lot of attention was SB 35 which would track how cities are meeting its RHNA allocations.  For cities that are not making progress towards that goal, they would lose local control and instead a streamlined approval process would supersede local laws.

However, there were some bills that didn’t receive as much attention but could affect a city like Alameda, from Capital Public Radio:

The legislation deals with a 35-year-old California law called the Housing Accountability Act – sometimes nicknamed the “Anti-NIMBY (Not In My Backyard)” Act.

The law’s intent is to block local governments from arbitrarily rejecting development projects that comply with their existing zoning and land use policies.

Identical bills by Sen. Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) and Asm. Raul Bocanegra (D-Pacoima) would put more teeth in that law.

“If a project comes before a local government, and that housing project meets all of the local government’s zoning and land use requirements – their policies that are already in place – then if the local government denies the project, there are penalties and remedies if the project applicant chooses to take them to court,“ Skinner says.

“So the purpose of it is really to let local governments know that if they’ve already gone through the very extensive public process that they do to devlop their zoning (regulations), to develop their land use policies, then you need to respect that when an applicant submits a project that meets those rules,“ she adds.

The bills would increase the burden of proof cities and counties must meet to deny housing projects; award damages to developers if local governments act in bad faith; and require courts to fine cities and counties for not complying with the Housing Accountability Act.

In other words, City Staff may want to include in its staff reports that rejecting any project for anything other than a specific set of reasons could put the City in jeopardy of damages and fines.

Here’s a few more that may be relevant to Alameda:

Senate Bill 166 makes cities add additional sites to their housing plans if they approve projects at densities lower than what local elected officials had anticipated in their proposals. The goal is to make up for the housing units that weren’t built.

Assembly Bill 879 instructs cities to analyze how long it takes developers to actually build their projects once they’ve been approved, and then take steps to shorten that time.

Assembly Bill 72 gives the state housing department more authority to investigate cities that don’t follow through with their housing plans and refer cases to California’s attorney general for possible legal action.


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