Sponsoring Additional Housing Legislation for 2006December 22, 2005Housing Opportunity Committee Legislative Committee(The following is for study only and has NOT been approvedby the Housing Opportunity, Legislative or Executive Committees or the Board of Directors.)Issue: Should CAR co-sponsor additional housing legislation this year to provide permit streamlining, local government reporting on housing production and to defer local government development fees?Action: 1. If CAR is to co-sponsor statutory changes this year, it must act at the January 2006 board of directors’ session.
Options: 1. Co-sponsor other changes in state law to: a) amend the permit streamlining act to apply to subdivisions that have a percentage of affordable housing; 2) require local governments to report to the state on their housing production; 3) clean-up the no-net-loss housing law which CAR successfully sponsored a few years ago; 4) rename the anti-NIMBY law the “Housing Affordability Act;” 5) repeal the Granny Flat law (which is notused due to the law on second units), and; 6) defer local government development fees until occupancy permits are issued for housing developments with at least 49% lower-income units and that cities MUST offer meaningful incentives.2. Co-sponsor some of the changes in law as noted in the first option3. OtherStatus/Summary: For the fifth year in a row, CAR is co-sponsoring a number of housing bills before the Legislature. One of those bills will amend the density bonus law to limit local governments’ ability to review and approve a developer’s financial records and make some technical and conforming changes. Another bill will amend the housing element law to add an attorney fees provisionin law and it will make other attorney fee laws consistent with one another. The third bill will limit a local government’s ability to change the rules of the game once a development application is complete. Additional changes may be appropriate this year as outlined in option number 1. Two questions before the CAR directors are: are more changes in law appropriate and should CAR co-sponsor all or some of the changes as herein outlined?Discussion CAR has successfullyco-sponsored a number of housing bills. At the last directors meeting, the board authorized CAR to sponsor bills this year to:
Repeal a section of law that allows local government to inspect and approve adeveloper’s finances
To permit interested parties to recover attorney fees if successfully litigating a housing element challenge. CAR will also seek to make the attorney fee provision in the density bonus law,anti-NIMBY law and no-net loss law internally consistent. And, if staff is successful with the administration, it will re-introduce language that was vetoed in AB 712 (Canciamilla) that would have extended the sunset provision in law allowing the successful plaintiff to recover attorney fees against a jurisdiction that illegally denied a development application.
Provide that when a development application is deemed complete by a local government that the developmentstandards (most notably the zoning code) cannot be changed by the local government and the standards are to be clear, written and objective.
Of course, the last paragraph is an outline of issues CAR could co-sponsor this year. We could expand the changes in law as outlined in option number 1. We can expect the cities, counties and planners to oppose each and every proposed change.The change in law that would really add meat to the permit streamlining act, an act that israrely used, would benefit affordable housing developments. It will be controversial because it would expedite housing developments. Currently, the permit streamlining act only applies to affordable housing developments that are 100% dedicated to very low-and low-income developments. This is unworkable and therefore not used.Local governments have consistently resisted providing or disclosing to the state how they are meeting their regional housing needs (RHNA) numbers. The bill proposal would be to compel local government to do so. The downside to this proposal is that locals will claim they do not want to comply, it is too costly to count the houses built and they do not know the price ranges of for sale and rental units. The question thenis how do they account for compliance with the 1978 housing law?Perhaps the most important bills CAR has sponsored in the housing arena have been what is popularly referred to as “no-net-loss”. As a result of the bill, cities andcounties are not to reduce the zoning below the zoned density unless certain written findings and declarations are made. Those findings and declarations are difficult to meet for local governments that try to impose growth controls.A few years ago, CAR successfully co-sponsored a measure that put teeth into the anti-NIMBY law. Prevailing plaintiffs can now recover attorney fees and costs. Additionally, cities and counties cannot impose so many conditions that make the development proposal impossible to construct. The term “anti-NIMBY” is negative and CAR may want to place a positive spin on it, Housing Accountability Act. Cities will oppose the measure as unnecessary and confusing. Others will argue that it is a change in mindsetand perception.For over 30 years, the Granny Flat law has been in existence. It is not being used in light of the state law on second units, it is arguably discriminatory, and property owners find that when they are ready to sell the property the Granny Flat lowers property values because of the restrictions that only seniors may occupy the property. For these reasons, is it appropriate to repeal this section of law?Some local governments permit fee deferrals under very unusualcircumstances. The proposal is to provide that fees shall be deferred until the time occupancy permits are issued for housing developments with at least 49% lower-income units and that cities must offer meaningful incentives. Cities will unquestionably oppose this measure on similar grounds as they oppose units built as a result of developers obtaining a density bonus award. The argument is to build lower cost units at a rate that builders can place them on the market with lower construction costs.Should CAR add to the sponsored housing bills as outlined?