Newsom passes 18 bills to overcome state’s housing shortage

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Image from California Housing Coalition website

Despite vetoing SB-5, Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed 18 housing bills including a law that aims to stop communities from delaying construction of new housing projects.

The bill by Sen. Nancy Skinner of Berkeley caps the number of public hearings on new projects, bans local governments from increasing fees on projects once an initial application is submitted and stops urban areas from freezing new construction. The measures are aimed at stopping cities and counties from delaying building when they have already zoned for new housing units.

Residential building permits fell 20% in the first half of this year compared to the same period in 2018, Skinner’s office said.

“Scarcity drives up cost, whether you are paying rent or trying to buy a home,” Skinner said in a statement. “And the skyrocketing cost of housing hurts all of us, whether it’s our neighbors who are driven out of the communities they grew up in or the many who end up homeless. (This law) helps us get more housing now. We need it fast.”

The law will be in effect through 2025.

Other laws aim to boost the construction of so-called “granny flats,” which are separate housing units connected to or in the backyard of an existing home. They are formally called “accessory dwelling units,” and are spaces that people could rent out or let family members live in.

Several proposals aim to better track surplus public land that could be used for housing development and otherwise ease restrictions on development. One law says projects that provide 100% affordable units will be allowed to build more densely than local zoning laws typically allow, KTLA-5 reported.

“This legislation will dramatically boost the production of affordable housing and ensure tens of thousands of lower-income Californians struggling to keep up with rising housing costs will have a safe, affordable place to call home,” Ray Pearl, executive director of the California Housing Consortium, said in a statement.

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