California removes roadblocks to university housing construction

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California Construction News staff writer

Taking on the “misuse of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)” to obstruct housing projects, Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed a measure that he says will speed up construction of affordable housing at universities.

AB 1307 was passed unanimously in response to February’s court decision to block a new affordable housing development at UC Berkeley, which received $100 million state funding in the 2022-23 budget. Under the new law, residential noise will not be considered a significant environmental effect under CEQA. Also, the bill eliminates the requirement that public universities consider alternatives to the location of housing projects, when specified requirements are met.

“California will not allow NIMBYism to take hold, blocking critically needed housing for years and even decades. I thank Assemblymember Wicks and all the legislative leaders for taking on the status quo and clearing the way for our state to build more affordable housing.”

Assemblymember Buffy Wicks wrote AB 1307 in light of a court decision earlier this year that amassed national attention by allowing challengers to use CEQA to block the construction of student housing at UC Berkeley.

“AB 1307 reestablishes over 50 years of CEQA precedent, and reaffirms that people are not pollution. This will help UC Berkeley move forward with more than 1,200 units of housing, including 160 units for formerly homeless individuals,” Wicks said. “Just as importantly, AB 1307 provides more certainty for housing projects across the state, instead of more red tape and higher construction costs.”

Earlier this year, Newsom filed an amicus brief with the California Supreme Court urging it to overturn that decision and issued a statement in support of UC Berkeley’s plan to build much-needed student housing in People’s Park.

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