SB 827 Comes . . . and Goes

In the last edition of In the Public Interest, we provided a summary of the legislation enacted by the State in 2017 to address California’s growing housing crisis. Since then, a new, highly controversial housing bill—SB 827—has come and gone.

Senator Scott Weiner introduced SB 827 in January of this year. If approved, the bill would have exempted residential projects proposed along major transit corridors, like train and bus routes, from local height, density, and parking regulations. Instead, qualifying projects would have been subject only to SB 827’s height restrictions (originally 85 feet on wide streets and 55 feet on smaller roads), “floor area ratio” or “FAR” standards, and parking requirements, which, in general, would have allowed much bigger, denser residential developments. The original version of the bill contained no affordable housing requirements.

Reactions to the bill were strong, to say the least. While some housing advocates lauded it as a bold and necessary step to address the housing affordability crisis, many local governments opposed the bill on the grounds that it would override local land use planning. Organizations advocating for equitable development and tenants’ rights noted the lack of protections for existing residents who could be displaced by this new construction, as well as the lack of any affordable housing requirement.

To address some of these concerns, Senator Weiner revised the bill in late February. In April, however, SB 827 failed to make it out of the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee. While that vote spells the end for SB 827, California remains in the midst of a serious housing shortage. Unless a solution is found quickly at the local level, cities and counties can expect more statewide legislation aimed at removing obstacles to housing development.

For more information, contact SMW attorney Winter King.

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