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Housing Law Update: A Summary of California’s New Housing Laws

In an effort to address California’s housing crisis, Governor Newsom signed more than 20 bills into law during the 2019 legislative session. Each new law is designed to tackle a different component of the housing challenge and they reflect different approaches to solving the problem. Together, the new laws create new, complex and sometimes vague and conflicting requirements for businesses, municipalities, public agencies and non-profit organizations that are involved in the state’s housing sector.

Summary of California’s New Housing Law Landscape

Please click here for a summary of the new housing laws prepared by Meyers Nave housing law experts John Bakker, Jon Goetz and Alex Mog. Below is a list of the laws that are included in the summary. Please contact us with questions about how to comply with these laws and what they mean for your organization’s daily operation and long-term planning. Our housing law team will provide follow-up Client Alerts and webinars that contain a more detailed analysis of the new laws.


New Laws Affecting Municipal Control Over Housing Development

  • SB 330 – Restricts cities and counties from taking actions to inhibit housing development, such as downzoning and housing moratoriums.
  • AB 68, AB 587, AB 670, AB 671, AB 881, SB 13 Limits local jurisdictions’ ability to restrict the development of accessory dwelling units (ADUs).
  • AB 1485, SB 235 – Allows developments in the Bay Area to obtain the SB 35 streamlined approval process by producing 20% of the units affordable to households earning 120% of area median income.
  • SB 450, SB 744 – Exempts from CEQA (1) the conversion of a motel/hotel into a supportive or transitional housing facility and (2) funding applications for supportive housing projects under California’s No Place Like Home Program.
  • AB 101 – Requires fines of up to $100,000 per month for failure to comply with court order to adopt compliant housing element.

New Laws Enhancing Availability of Housing Sites 

  • AB 1486, AB 1255 – Strengthens Surplus Land Act requirements and requires preparation and publication of a central inventory of surplus land.
  • SB 6 – Creates a process for an internet-accessible database of land suitable for residential development as identified in local general plan housing elements.
  • AB 1483 – Requires local jurisdictions to post housing development information on their websites and make regular updates.

New Laws Targeting Homeless Issues

  • AB 101 – Provides funding for homelessness programs and creates “by right” process for “low barrier navigation centers.”
  • AB 761 – Authorizes vacant armories to be used throughout the year as homeless shelters.

New Laws Assisting in the Finance and Development of Affordable Housing

  • AB 1763 – Provides an 80% density bonus and four incentives or concessions for 100% affordable housing projects.
  • AB 1487 – Creates the Bay Area Housing Finance Authority, which can levy taxes and fees and issue bonds to fund affordable housing programs, planning and technical assistance, and infrastructure to support housing.
  • AB 1743 – Provides that affordable housing properties exempt from property taxes are also exempt from new Mello-Roos district special taxes, and limits ability of local jurisdictions to disapprove housing projects because of the project’s property tax exemption.
  • SB 196 – Provides an exemption from property taxes for property owned by a community land trust prior to construction of affordable housing on the property.

New Laws Adding Tenants’ Rights

  • AB 1482 – Protects tenants from “rent gouging” and evictions by adopting a cap on annual rent increases and requiring “just cause evictions.”
  • SB 329 – Prohibits landlords from discriminating against tenants or applicants for tenancy on the basis of their use of Section 8 or other housing vouchers.