Gov. Jerry Brown will sign a package of bills Friday that seek to address California’s exorbitant housing costs.
One piece that’s flown below the radar would make it harder for cities and counties to evade state housing mandates.
The legislation deals with a 35-year-old California law called the Housing Accountability Act – sometimes nicknamed the “Anti-NIMBY (Not In My Backyard)” Act.
The law’s intent is to block local governments from arbitrarily rejecting development projects that comply with their existing zoning and land use policies.
Identical bills by Sen. Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) and Asm. Raul Bocanegra (D-Pacoima) would put more teeth in that law.
“If a project comes before a local government, and that housing project meets all of the local government’s zoning and land use requirements – their policies that are already in place – then if the local government denies the project, there are penalties and remedies if the project applicant chooses to take them to court,“ Skinner says.
“So the purpose of it is really to let local governments know that if they’ve already gone through the very extensive public process that they do to devlop their zoning (regulations), to develop their land use policies, then you need to respect that when an applicant submits a project that meets those rules,“ she adds.
The bills would increase the burden of proof cities and counties must meet to deny housing projects; award damages to developers if local governments act in bad faith; and require courts to fine cities and counties for not complying with the Housing Accountability Act.
Local government groups opposed earlier versions of the legislation, citing an overly broad legal standard and automatic fines without first giving an offending city or county a chance to act. But the groups shifted to neutral after negotiating amendments.
The governor will sign the Skinner and Bocanegra bills Friday in San Francisco as part of a 15-bill package that includes a $4 billion housing bond and a real estate transaction document fee to subsidize affordable housing projects.
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