What’s the California Legislature Doing for Housing?

May 12, 2021

We know the housing crisis can be complex; on top of that, understanding what the California legislature is planning to address the crisis can be overwhelming. That’s why Megan and Hannah are breaking down everything you need to know about the State Senate Housing Package and the Renters Protection Acts AB 15 & 16. Check out the videos below, or keep scrolling for a topline summary of each.

The State Senate Housing Package AKA Building Opportunities for All

First, what is a housing package? It’s a group of bills that all work together to address different facets of the same problem and share a political strategy to get passed. File this Housing Package under P for Production in our housing priorities. 

The housing crisis has been the result of decades of bad policies and practices like weak tenant protections, stagnant housing development, speculative real estate tactics, and more complexity than I have your time and attention for this short video.  For context, California has an extreme housing shortage. We now rank 49th in the number of housing units per capita and are home to 33 of the 50 US cities with the highest rents. Complex problems need strong solutions – enter the Senate Housing package. It addresses barriers to housing development by fixing exclusionary zoning, regulatory barriers, and lack of public investment.

Here’s what we’re working with:

SB 5

This bill establishes the initial framework for a statewide housing bond that would fund the creation of new, affordable housing for people experiencing homelessness and low-income families. 

SB 6

SB 6 allows housing development in commercial areas, where stores are typically built. It  encourages the development of new apartments and affordable housing. 

SB 7

SB 7 streamlines project review and approval so that housing developers don’t have costly delays that often kill projects altogether.

SB 8

SB 8, updates definitions in the Density Bonus Law to ensure that development standards don’t get in the way of constructing high-density affordable housing.

SB 9

SB 9 allows splitting single family homes into duplexes, and development of up to two residential units on each lot.

SB 10

SB 10 allows cities to approve up to 10 units of housing on any lot if it is within a half-mile of a transit stop, near a jobs center, or in an otherwise under-developed area.

Renters Protection Acts AB 15 + AB 16

We’re giving an overview about two key bills moving through the California legislature that can better protect renters across the state—and how you can protect our most vulnerable neighbors.

If you can remember back to pre-pandemic times, in 2019 we helped pass the Tenant Protection Act, which created protections and rights for more renters than any bill in US history. But as you know, the pandemic has deepened the cracks in our economy; for so many renters in our state, the threat of eviction and homelessness looms large. But we can solve these issues and protect our vulnerable neighbors.

It’s time to enact more laws that protect renters during the pandemic and beyond, and while that is happening at the federal level, we know that there’s more that we can do in California to stop the housing crisis from growing. There are two bills in the legislature intended to do just that: AB 15 and AB 16.

AB 15

AB 15 will minimize the impending eviction and homelessness crisis by creating critical housing protections, like extending the deadline to pay any debt accrued from rent. 

AB 16

AB 16 will provide direct financial assistance to those most in need.

In conjunction, both of these bills have the potential to introduce new tenant protections that can more holistically protect Californians struggling to make rent.