California 2020 Rent Control / Eviction Protection Law | Housing Crisis Act | Access Dwelling Units

The golden state’s housing supply as well as homelessness situation continues, the State Legislature has for the previous several years passed countless pieces of housing regulations in each legal session.

New Granny Flat LawsThis article will be discussing:

  • Tenant Protections
  • Reducing Barriers to Production and Streamlining, Increasing Density
  • (ADU’s) Accessory Dwelling Units and “Triplexes.”
  • Surplus Land Availability
  • California Environmental Quality Act | Exemptions
  • … AND … More…

Highlights

The biggest news out of Sacramento in housing law is a historic measure providing statewide rent control and “just cause” eviction requirements for California renters.
For advocates of increased housing production, the most significant effort enacted into law is the “Housing Crisis Act,” which creates important new vesting rights for housing developments and limits on local review procedures.

The California Legislature also again embraced Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU), with a package of laws that some are calling “the end of single-family zoning,” allowing most single-family homes to be converted into three separate housing units.

In its first year, the Newsom Administration is focusing on planning for housing development on surplus state lands and further reforming the regional housing needs allocation process. It remains to be seen whether next year’s legislative session will yield the major steps forward on streamlining housing approvals that will be necessary for the administration to come close to meeting its goal of building 3.5 million homes by 2025.

As California’s housing supply and homelessness crisis continues, the State Legislature has for the past several years passed numerous pieces of housing legislation in each legislative session. (See Holland & Knight’s previous alerts, “A Closer Look at California’s New Housing Production Laws,” Dec. 6, 2017 and “California’s 2019 Housing Laws: What You Need to Know,” Oct. 8, 2018.) This year was no exception, with more than 30 individual pieces of housing legislation enacted into law.

This Holland & Knight alert takes a closer look at these laws, grouped into following categories:

Tenant Protections. A statewide rent control measure that will take effect in 2020, among other tenant protection measures.
Streamlining, Increasing Density and Reducing Barriers to Production. Sen. Nancy Skinner’s “Housing Crisis Act” creates important new vesting rights for housing developments, and the Legislature has also enacted important new reforms to the Density Bonus Law and clarifications to SB 35’s Streamlined Ministerial Approval Process.
Accessory Dwelling Units and “Triplexes.” A groundbreaking package of new laws that some are calling “the end of single-family zoning” will create new incentives and streamlined processes to build ADUs and triplexes.

Surplus Land Availability / Planning and Impact Fee Data. New laws significantly expand Surplus Lands Act requirements for local agencies in an effort to achieve more affordable housing on surplus publicly owned properties.

CEQA and Housing. The major transit stop definition was broadened to make more projects eligible for streamlining and a handful of limited California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) exemptions were created for specific homelessness projects.

Funding. Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed a bill that would have created an “Affordable Housing and Community Development Investment Program” that would have revived redevelopment, but he signed a number of smaller funding bills, including laws that will create new regional finance agencies in the Bay Area and the San Gabriel Valley.

This alert also includes some observations about the important work California still needs to do to stem the housing crisis, and consider what may be around the corner in the 2020 legislative session. Except where noted, these new laws take effect Jan. 1, 2020.

Tenant Protections
The most significant housing law of the 2019 legislative session was the enactment of a statewide rent control law.

AB 1482 (Assembly Member David Chiu) – The Tenant Protection Act of 2019 enacts a cap of 5 percent plus inflation per year on rent increases statewide for the next 10 years. The new law does not apply a cap to vacant units, and owners can continue to reset rents to market rate at vacancy. It also prevents landlords from evicting certain tenants without landlords first providing a reason for the eviction and requires relocation assistance.

The law does not apply to properties built in the last 15 years, nor does it apply to single-family home rentals (unless owned by large corporations) or to projects already under construction or under current rent control schemes. The new law defers to more stringent local measures, including existing local rent control with lower limits and local just cause eviction laws.

The law’s anti-eviction protections, which would limit evictions to lease violations or require relocation assistance, will kick in after a tenant has lived in an apartment for a year. Gov. Newsom’s enactment of a rent cap comes less than a year after California voters rejected a ballot measure that would have expanded local rent control policies statewide, which would have likely resulted in tighter restrictions in some cities than those now offered by AB 1482. (For additional detail, please see Holland & Knight’s previous alert, “Rent Control Bill Gets Gov. Newsom’s Support as Clock Ticks on Deadline for New Laws,” Sept. 9, 2019.)

AB 1110 (Assembly Member Laura Friedman) – Noticing Rent Increases requires 90-day notice, rather than 60-day notice, before a landlord may increase the rent of a month-to-month tenant by more than 10 percent.

SB 329 (Assembly Member Holly Mitchell) – Housing Discrimination prohibits landlords from discriminating against tenants who rely on housing assistance paid directly to landlords, such as a Section 8 voucher, to help them pay the rent.

SB 18 (Sen. Nancy Skinner) – The Keep Californians Housed Act ­removes the Dec. 31, 2019, sunset date on a state law which gives tenants at least 90 days’ notice before their tenancy can be terminated if a landlord loses ownership of their rental property as a result of a foreclosure sale.

Streamlining, Increasing Density and Reducing Barriers to Production

Sen. Skinner’s SB 330, the “Housing Crisis Act of 2019,” stands out as the most important new law affecting large-scale housing developments.

SB 330 (Skinner) – Housing Crisis Act of 2019 includes a number of new procedural protections, including the following:

Preliminary Application Protections – limitations on a jurisdiction’s ability to change development standards and zoning applicable to the project once a “preliminary application” is submitted
Application Completeness Streamlining – amends the Permit Streamlining Act to specify what constitutes a “preliminary application” and states that a jurisdiction has one chance to identify incomplete items in an initial application and after that may not request the submission of any new information that was not in the initial list of missing items
Fees/Exactions Limitations – prevents jurisdictions from increasing exactions or fees during a project’s application period, but allows such increases if the resolution or ordinance establishing the fee calls for automatic increases in the fee over time

Hearing Limitations – prohibits cities or counties from conducting more than five hearings if a proposed housing development complies with the applicable, objective general plan and zoning standards in effect at the time an application is deemed complete

Downzoning Prohibitions – prohibits a jurisdiction (with some exceptions) from enacting development policies, standards or conditions that would change current zoning and general plan designations of land where housing is an allowable use to “lessen the intensity of housing”; from placing a moratorium or similar restrictions on housing development; from imposing subjective design standards established after Jan. 1, 2020; and limiting or capping the number of land use approvals or permits that will be issued in the jurisdiction, unless the jurisdiction is predominantly agricultural

Some of the most important provisions in SB 330 sunset on Jan. 1, 2025, if not extended. (For additional detail on SB 330, see Holland & Knight’s previous alert, “California Legislature Passes Housing Crisis Act of 2019 and Rent Control Bill, Among Others,” Sept. 12, 2019; For background on the Housing Accountability Act, upon which SB 330 builds, see Holland & Knight’s previous alert, “California Governor Signs into Law Major Reforms to Housing Accountability Act,” Sept. 29, 2017.)

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