Cities Falling Short On Housing Construction

The state housing department released its first list showing how many California cities and counties are meeting their local homebuilding goals.

The conclusion: More than 500 local jurisdictions — 98 percent of those in the state — are failing. As a result, local governments will be required to expedite the approval process for new home developments that include affordable housing units, the California Department of Housing and Community Development announced on Thursday, Feb. 1.

Just 13 local jurisdictions made the list of those that have approved enough housing for all income levels, including sufficient affordable housing. The cities of Beverly Hills, San Fernando and West Hollywood made the list, as did Carpinteria and the San Diego County town of Lemon Grove.

The rest – 526 California cities and counties – either failed to meet their minimum housing goals or have yet to submit their 2016 progress reports, the state report said.

Under Senate Bill 35 — one of 15 new laws approved last year to address California’s housing crisis — developers seeking permits in those jurisdictions can get streamlined approvals, granted without their needing to appear before city councils and county supervisors, as long as they meet certain conditions.

For example, the housing projects must be adjacent to existing urban areas, meet existing zoning laws and set aside either 10 percent or 50 percent of their new homes for low-income residents.

The law seeks to increase homebuilding in the state by taking the approval process away from local politicians who fail to approve adequate construction.

State reports found local jurisdictions frequently give in to pressure from constituents who flock to city halls and county governments to protest new developments in their neighborhoods. So-called NIMBY’s, or “not in my backyard,” supporters, are reluctant to accept new housing in their communities, particularly affordable housing, fearing it will bring increased traffic, congestion and crime. State environmental regulations and “impact” fees imposed on developers also have been credited for slowing homebuilding in the state.

SB35 backers believe increased homebuilding will ease soaring housing costs by increasing the supply to meet burgeoning demand. In 148 jurisdictions, developers will qualify for streamlined approvals if they set aside half of their new units for low-income residents. Those jurisdictions — the city of Los Angeles and unincorporated Orange County among them — failed to make sufficient progress in approving low-income housing, the state said.

In 378 additional jurisdictions, developers must set aside 10 percent of their units for low-income residents to qualify for streamlining. Those cities and counties made insufficient progress in approving enough homes even for average and upper-income households.

Under California law, each region needs to conduct a housing-needs assessment every five to eight years, then zone enough land to ensure there’s adequate housing for all income levels.

“SB35 looks beyond planning to see if cities/counties have permitted housing in line with their need,” a housing department news release said. “When they have not, they are subject to SB35.”

Southern California cities subject to the 50 percent low-income set-aside include Pasadena, Rancho Cucamonga, Rancho Palos Verdes, Anaheim, Santa Ana, Fullerton and Irvine. The 50 percent rule also applies to San Francisco, San Jose and San Diego.

In the cities of Riverside and San Bernardino, developers must set aside just 10 percent of their units for low-income residents to qualify for streamlining. The 10 percent rule also applies to Long Beach, Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach and Huntington Beach, the report said.

Source: Orange County Register

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