California OKs bill for affordable housing on nonprofit-owned land

The California State Senate passed a bill this week that would permit the construction of affordable housing units on land owned by faith-based institutions and nonprofit colleges, even if local zoning ordinances and laws would normally prevent construction.

The bill, introduced last December by Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), is designed to reduce barriers faced by nonprofit organizations, churches, synagogues and mosques for constructing multifamily housing units on their properties.

“Tackling our housing crisis requires every tool available to us,” Sen. Wiener told the Davis Vanguard. “Many faith institutions are called to provide housing to those in need, as our severe housing crisis continues to inflict its most serious damage on the most marginalized. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Assembly to allow faith institutions to help with our housing crisis, opening up a huge amount of essential land exclusively for affordable housing.”

If signed into law, the bill would supersede local zoning rules for applicable institutions and would prevent opponents of the construction from using the environmental review process to slow the construction process through litigation.

In addition to zoning limitations, the state’s strict environmental review process has also been considered by the bill’s supporters as an impediment to construction, according to the Los Angeles Times.

“SB 4 will unlock an enormous, and I’m not exaggerating, an enormous amount of land for 100% affordable housing,” Wiener said late last year when announcing the proposal. He cited a 2020 study by the University of California, Berkeley’s Terner Center for Housing Innovation, which found that roughly 40,000 acres of land that are currently used by religious institutions have potential for housing development.

While a union dispute over pay language previously threatened to derail the bill, according to CalMatters, once the bill made it to the Senate floor, it passed overwhelmingly — with 33 in favor and two lawmakers voting against it. Five members did not record a vote.

The bill was delivered to the California State Assembly on Wednesday, where it was read in the chamber for the first time.

Source link