California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation Thursday extending the California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA, review for emerging developments and expanding the process to include smaller-scale housing projects.
The Housing + Jobs Expansion & Extension Act, titled SB 7 and pushed forth by California Senate President pro Tem Toni Atkins, is supposed to accelerate California’s economic recovery through an increase in job opportunities and available housing, according to a press release from the governor’s press office. Newsom noted that moving forward from the pandemic requires addressing the housing crisis currently prevalent in the state, a process that involved circumventing the “red tape” that would slow projects down otherwise.
SB 7, signed by Newsom at the proposed site of Google’s Downtown West project in San Jose, aims to create 4,000 additional housing units — 25% of which will be affordable — along with new retail and office spaces.
The legislation itself extends to 2025 a proposal passed in 2011, which created the CEQA’s judicial review process for large housing, clean energy and manufacturing projects, according to the press release. SB 7 lowers the required threshold for streamlining in order to allow smaller housing projects to qualify, given that the projects’ investments range from $15 million to $100 million, include at least 15% affordable housing and are infill projects.
“SB 7 will enable San Jose’s transformative Downtown West project to move forward – bringing thousands of units of affordable housing and tens of thousands of jobs to our city – during a time our community needs it the most,” said San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo in the press release.
Atkins echoed these sentiments in the press release, adding that SB 7 would allow the state to expedite the process of approving development projects without “compromising” any preexisting environmental standards. According to Atkin, the legislation will provide the state with much-needed jobs and economic stimulation following the pandemic.