Under AB 3194, a recent bill signed into law by Governor Brown, builders should be able to more easily develop housing projects for low- and moderate-income households without interference from local governments. Another primary goal of the law is to make these types of housing projects more affordable for developers. Also, the bill’s legislative intent is for local governments to encourage urban infill rather than sprawling development into surrounding agricultural areas that may lack the infrastructure necessary for project completion.
Prior to the enactment of AB 3194, such projects could be blocked and delayed as local governments required further governmental action such as re-zoning prior to rendering approval of any proposed projects. Originating in the California Assembly, AB 3194, amends the Housing Accountability Act and theoretically eliminates existing legal loopholes and adjusts zoning standards. Pursuant to the law, housing projects for low- and moderate-income households, as well as emergency shelters, are considered to meet applicable zoning standards.
Instead of requiring a housing developer to prove that a project meets local zoning rules, AB 3194 shifts the burden and requires that a local government may only reject a proposed housing development if it provides written evidence that:
- The local government has already met its regional need for low- and moderate-income housing;
- The new development would have a specific negative impact on the health or safety of residents;
- approving the development would violate a specific federal of state law;
- the proposed development is situated on and surrounded on at least two sides by agricultural or resource land;
- the proposed project site lacks the adequate water or wastewater facilities necessary to accommodate the housing development; or
- the development is inconsistent with both local zoning rules and the general plan at the time of the completed application, and the area has adopted a lawful, revised housing element in compliance with 2015 law to meet statewide housing goals. [Calif. Government Code 65589.5(d)]
This bill, like many pieces of successful and unsuccessful proposed legislation before it, attempts to address California’s seemingly never-ending housing crisis. A low rate of newly constructed of low- and moderate-income housing has driven up rent costs for individuals while hampering the home sales volume recovery.
AB 3194, sponsored by the California Building Industry Association, will hopefully stimulate new construction, reduce costs for builders and end users, and increase opportunities for the ownership of homes. The bill’s ultimate intended results are growth in California’s economy and housing market.
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