By Rachel Dovey.
California’s newest housing law is about to be tested.
Last week, developer West Berkeley Investments (a subsidiary of Blake Griggs) cited SB 35 when filing its application for a controversial project that’s been tied up in zoning and environmental review for the last half-decade. The law allows the developer to bypass local oversight in exchange for making 50 percent of the units affordable, Berkeleyside reports. It’s the first to cite the law since it was enacted in January, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
SB 35 is, in part, a reaction to California cities’ notorious noncompliance with state housing law. Much like laws in New Jersey and Washington, housing element law requires cities to plan for their “fair share” of housing in line with regional growth estimates. But many municipalities (around half, according to an Orange County Register story from 2013) just don’t update their housing elements, as Next City has covered, and the law doesn’t have any teeth. SB 35 says that any municipality not meeting its regional housing requirements needs to allow “over-the-counter approval” for a project that meets certain zoning requirements, according to Berkeleyside.
State senator Scott Weiner, who proposed the law, immediately sent out a congratulatory tweet.