Housing bill approved by CA Legislature, awaits governor approval

photo of houses in the city of Berkeley
Andrew Huang/Staff
SB 8 passed through the California State Senate and the California State Assembly, and now awaits approval from Gov. Gavin Newsom. The bill will extend the duration of the Housing Crisis Act of 2019 and allow for the construction of more housing throughout California.

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The California State Senate greenlighted Sen. Nancy Skinner’s SB 8 bill Wednesday, which extends the duration of the Housing Crisis Act of 2019, SB 330, from 2025 to 2030 and allows for the construction of more housing throughout California.

SB 8 is an assurance that the full provisions of the original SB 330 bill, which aimed to streamline housing development and protect low-income housing, can be properly met within its new time frame, according to a press release from Skinner’s office. 

“Today’s passage of SB 8 will ensure that the Housing Crisis Act won’t expire before its benefits are fully realized,” Skinner said in a press release. “California can be assured that housing that meets existing local and state rules doesn’t face unnecessary delays or get bogged down in red tape.”

SB 8 was met with considerable bipartisan support. SB 8 passed through the California State Senate with a vote of 30-3 and through the California State Assembly with a vote of 67-1, according to the press release. The bill now awaits approval by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Due to its uncontroversial nature, SB 8 is expected to pass by many votes, according to Soli Alpert, vice chair of the Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board. Alpert has “absolute confidence” that Newsom will sign the bill when it is addressed. 

While the timeline of the bill’s passage is unclear, Alpert predicted it may be approved by the end of the year.

“I think on a bill like this, which has sailed through the legislature, it’s probably prudent to give the governor some breathing room,” said Igor Tregub, chair of the Berkeley Measure O Bond Oversight Committee. “He’s dealing with a series of crises from the California wildfire and keeping the flare-up of the pandemic in check. He has a number of other bills that appear to me more contentious than this bill has been.”

Organizations including Abundant Housing LA, Habitat for Humanity and the Housing Action Coalition have expressed support for the passage of SB 8, according to Tregub. The bill is mainly opposed by local neighborhood cohorts and one environmental center, he added.

The impact of SB 8 may not resonate deeply with the Berkeley community, Alpert noted. Given the strictness of Berkeley’s demolition policies, many objectives of SB 8 do not apply to the city. 

Alpert emphasized there is still work to be done, despite the progress made by SB 8. 

In the context of COVID-19, it is important to make sure that money for tenants is going out the door,” Alpert said. “What I’m hoping to see is increased emphasis for tenant support and resources.”

Contact Ashley Tsai at [email protected], and follow her on Twitter at @ashleyttsai.