News   /   February 29, 2024   /   

2024 New Housing Laws Update

This legal alert briefly summarizes key housing bills effective in 2024 intended to further reduce barriers to and incentivize housing production. Unless otherwise noted, all laws became effective January 1, 2024. For more information about how to apply these and other state housing laws, contact your OMLO attorney or a member of the firm’s Municipal Practice Group.

1. SB 423 (Wiener) – Expand and Extend Streamlined Approval for Affordable Projects (SB 35)

Senate Bill 423 extends the sunset date of Senate Bill 35 (2017) by ten years from January 1, 2026, to January 1, 2036. SB 423 also significantly expands the applicability of SB 35 (codified at Government Code section 65913.4), which provides for a streamlined ministerial, CEQA-exempt approval process for qualifying housing development projects that meet qualifying criteria. SB 423 expands SB 35 to apply when a jurisdiction fails to achieve an HCD-certified housing element, and to specified urban coastal zones. SB 423 also modified labor requirements, and revises affordability levels to allow greater flexibility for 100% below market rate projects.

2. SB 684 (Caballero) – Streamlined Approval of Projects Up to 10 Units on Small Infill Lots Proposed

Senate Bill 684 requires CEQA exempt ministerial approval for projects of 10 or fewer residential units or parcels on qualifying multifamily infill sites of no more than five acres. The law requires local governments to ministerially approve a parcel map or tentative and final map for projects that meet qualifying criteria, including density requirements. Projects on qualifying sites are not required to meet minimum size, width, and depth requirements beyond a 600-foot minimum parcel size and are also exempt from the requirement to form a homeowners’ association, except as required by the Davis-Sterling Common Interest Development Act. The law will take effect July 1, 2024.

3. SB 4 (Wiener) – Affordable Housing on Faith and Higher Education Lands Act

Senate Bill 4 provides streamlined process for religious organizations and nonprofit colleges to develop affordable housing (including qualifying ground-floor commercial, childcare center and community center uses) on lands they own. The approval process is ministerial, so long as the project is consistent with all objective standards, and does not involve CEQA analysis. To qualify, 100% of units in the development must be affordable, with a few exclusions. Further, the project must satisfy site requirements as set forth under AB 2011 (operative as of July 1, 2023), designed to capture “infill” project locations. Prevailing wages must be paid for projects that consist of 10 or more units. SB 4 will sunset on January 1, 2036, unless extended.

4. AB 1287 (Alvarez) – Additional Density for Very Low or Moderate Income Units Under Density Bonus Law

Assembly Bill 1287 modifies state Density Bonus law (Government Code section 65915) to award an additional density bonus for projects that meet the maximum percentage of on-site affordable units required by current law. The project must first maximize the production of very-low (15%), low (24%) or moderate (44%) units (for-sale only) allowed under Density Bonus Law before utilizing or stacking the added density bonus available under AB 1287. The additional density bonus is based on a sliding scale and eligible projects are eligible for four incentives or concessions.

5. AB 1218 (Lowenthal) – Replacement Unit Requirements and Relocation Benefits for Demolished Housing

Assembly Bill 1218 adds a new article within the Government Code addressing replacement housing and relocation benefit requirements formerly contained within the Housing Crisis Act of 2019. The law expands replacement requirements to nonresidential developments. Projects that demolish vacant or occupied protected units or are located on sites where protected units were demolished in the last five years are required to replace all protected units that currently exist or were demolished after January 2020. The law clarifies that notice of construction must be given six months in advance and that relocation benefits provided by private developers must be equivalent to those provided by public entities. Other amendments define the terms “housing development project” and “very low income households” through cross-references to existing definitions in the Government Code and Health and Safety Code.

6. AB 1633 (Ting) – CEQA Determination for Infill Housing

Assembly Bill 1633 is aimed at curbing excessive CEQA review against residential development. AB 1633 establishes new violations of the Housing Accountability Act (HAA) that can expose local agencies to litigation and payment of attorneys’ fees. Under AB 1633, it is a violation of the HAA for a local jurisdiction to refuse to make a CEQA exemption determination for an infill housing development project that is entitled to an exemption, without substantial evidence justifying additional environmental study. AB 1633 establishes a 90-day notice period for an applicant to protest a local agency’s decision to require CEQA review when the applicant believes that their project is entitled to a CEQA exemption. If substantial evidence shows that a CEQA exemption applies to the project, the local agency has 90 days to make a determination regarding the exemption in order to avoid violating the HAA. The law also prohibits a local agency from holding a meeting to consider an EIR or similar CEQA document, and not approve the document if there is substantial evidence to support certification of the EIR and it is an AB 1633 protected project. AB 1633 applies to housing development projects in urbanized areas with density that is at least 15 dwelling units per acre and meets other project site requirements.

7. AB 1033 (Ting) – ADUs Conveyed Separately as Condominiums

Assembly Bill 1033 authorizes but does not require local agencies to adopt an ordinance allowing the conveyance of ADUs as condominiums separate from the primary dwelling. Previously, local agencies could prohibit the separate sale or conveyances of ADUs from the primary dwelling with limited exceptions for qualified nonprofits. AB 1033 allows greater flexibility in the sale of ADUs in an effort to increase housing availability in California.

8. AB 1449 (Alvarez) – CEQA Exemption for Affordable Housing

Assembly Bill 1449 adds new exemption from CEQA for 100% affordable housing projects that meet certain prerequisites involving location, labor standards, and comply with specified environmental requirements.

9. AB 1485 (Haney) –Attorney General Right to Intervene in Housing Lawsuits

Assembly Bill 1485 permits the Attorney General to automatically intervene without court permission in lawsuits brought by third parties for alleged violations of state housing laws. The Attorney General may intervene independently, or through a notice of referral from HCD. Prior law required the Attorney General and HCD to petition the court to be granted intervenor status and join a lawsuit.

This alert is for informational purposes only and only provides an overview of specific developments. It is not intended to be, and should not be construed as, legal advice for any particular fact situation. For actual legal advice and specifics pertaining to your governmental entity, please contact your OMLO attorney for assistance.

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