California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Oct. 11 signed multiple housing bills aimed at tackling the state’s lack of affordable housing and making it easier for tenants to rent a home in the first place.
Newsom signed a whopping 56 bills into law which he said “incentivize and reduce barriers to housing and support the development of more affordable homes.”
Housing developments will now be more streamlined with less red tape, density laws can be overruled in the interest of housing, and institutions like colleges or religious organizations can now use portions of their property to build housing. Newsom also signed a bill that will please anyone who has tried to rent in California on a limited income: Landlords can now only collect one months’ rent as a security deposit instead of two.
State Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) is especially pleased with the signings, as several of the bills were his, including creating a tax increment financing structure to replace 5,800 affordable homes in San Francisco that have been lost to redevelopment.
“California desperately needs to ramp up housing production and the Governor’s action today helps put us on a path to that goal,” said Wiener in a statement.
Of Wiener’s bills, Newsom signed Senate Bill 423, which accelerates the development of affordable housing by strengthening the provisions of SB 35, which will sunset at the end of 2025. SB 35, another bill from Wiener back in 2016, allows projects to go through a simplified and expedited housing approval process in areas that are not on track to meet their housing production goals.
SB 423 continues the momentum of 35, but also includes “strong new labor standards,” such as higher wages and health benefits for workers on housing developments.
Wiener also put forth the San Francisco Replacement Housing Act, or Senate Bill 593, which aims to mend the mistakes of the past by adding affordable housing to neighborhoods that were demolished for growth, displacing their lower-income residents. According to Wiener, examples of these neighborhoods are Japantown, SoMA, and the Western Addition. SB 593 will create 5,800 affordable homes in the city, Wiener said.
Assembly Bill 12 was signed by the governor as well. Assemblymember Matt Haney (D-San Francisco) backed the bill, which expands tenant protections by limiting security deposits to one month’s rent instead of up to three times the rent.
“Massive security deposits can create insurmountable barriers to housing affordability and accessibility for millions of Californians,” said Haney on social media Oct. 11. “Despite skyrocketing rents, laws on ensuring affordable security deposits haven’t changed substantially since the 1970s. The result is that landlords lose out on good tenants and tenants stay in homes that are too crowded, unsafe or far from work.”
Other bills signed by Newsom establish penalties for CEQA abuse, allowing affordable accessory dwelling unit (ADU) condos, and expanding density bonuses, which give developers the ability to increase density above the maximum allowed in a municipality’s General Plan.
“It’s simple math,” said Newsom in a statement released by his office. “California needs to build more housing and ensure the housing we have is affordable.”
For a full list of all the housing-related bills signed by Gov. Newsom, go to leginfo.legislature.ca.gov.
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