Housing Crisis Act passes through California State Legislature

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SB 330, known as the Housing Crisis Act of 2019 a bill that aims to speed up housing development and protect low-income housing has passed through the California State Legislature.

The bill, also called the Housing Accountability Act, was introduced by Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley. It places prohibitions on which housing projects can be disapproved by agencies and prohibits the raising of fees on projects after a proposal has been submitted. The bill places a special emphasis on projects aimed at low-income housing and emergency shelters.

According to a press release from Skinner’s office, the senator hopes the bill will usher in faster housing developments in California, which she hopes will help alleviate the housing crisis.

“Our failure to build enough housing has led to the highest rents and home ownership costs in the nation,” Skinner said in the press release. “SB 330 … gives a greenlight to housing that already meets existing zoning and local rules and prevents new rules that might limit housing we so desperately need.”

The state of California has the highest homeless population in the country. In Berkeley, homelessness has been a hot-button issue for legislators and activists. Since 2017, the city has discussed a 1,000 Person Plan to address homelessness — a plan of legislation aimed at significantly reducing homelessness.

Mayor Jesse Arreguín has also said he hopes to reduce chronic homelessness by 50 percent in Berkeley and that he believes this to be a “reasonable goal.”

While the 1,000 Person Plan proposes tackling homelessness directly through “targeted investments in a variety of interventions,” according to the text of the plan, SB 330 aims to tackle the shortage of affordable housing in the area by making it more difficult for projects to be disapproved and to help the affordable housing market. In order for a local agency to deny a project that complies with zoning rules, the agency must “base its decision on written findings,” according to the text of the bill.

According to the bill, this change “places the burden of proof on the local agency” in denying projects.

Contact Ben Klein at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @BenKlein_dc‏.