California Housing Crisis – Builder’s Remedy

The California Housing Accountability Act (“HAA”):

Also known as the “anti-NIMBY law,” is a state law that was enacted in 1982 to help promote the development of new housing and combat local resistance to new housing projects.

The HAA establishes that cities and counties in California must approve housing developments that meet certain zoning and planning requirements unless the proposed development would have a specific, adverse impact on public health, safety, or welfare. The law requires cities and counties to provide a comprehensive set of procedures for the processing and approval of housing projects, which includes both affordable and market-rate housing.

Under the HAA, housing developments that meet local zoning and planning requirements must be approved unless there is substantial evidence that the proposed development would have a specific, adverse impact on public health, safety, or welfare. This means that cities and counties cannot use their zoning or planning powers to block new housing developments simply because of local opposition or concerns about the impact on the community.

The HAA also allows developers to sue cities and counties that do not comply with the law and seek legal remedies such as attorney’s fees, court costs, and monetary damages.

Housing Crisis Act of 2019:
Senate Bill 330 is a law that was enacted to help address California’s ongoing housing crisis. Among other things, SB330 amended the HAA to further promote the development of new housing by placing additional limits on local governments’ ability to delay or block new housing projects.

Under SB330, local governments are prohibited from enacting certain types of development moratoria or interim zoning ordinances that would delay or stop the approval of new housing developments. The law also imposes new requirements on local governments to process housing development applications more quickly and to provide certain notices to developers regarding their rights under the HAA. Additionally, SB330 extends the HAA’s protections to cover more types of housing developments, including accessory dwelling units (ADUs) and multifamily developments.

The overall effect of SB330 is to further strengthen the HAA and to provide additional protections for developers seeking to build new housing in California. By limiting local governments’ ability to delay or block new housing projects and by providing additional notice and procedural requirements, SB330 helps to streamline the housing development process and promote the development of new housing across the state.

California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”):
CEQA requires state and local agencies in California to identify and mitigate the environmental impacts of proposed development projects, including housing projects. CEQA requires agencies to prepare an Environmental Impact Report (“EIR”) for projects that are likely to have significant environmental impacts, which may include impacts on air quality, water quality, traffic, noise, and other factors.

While the HAA and CEQA serve different purposes, they can both apply to the development of housing projects in California. For example, a housing development project may be subject to both the HAA and CEQA if the project requires discretionary approval from a local agency. In such cases, the local agency would need to consider the requirements of both the HAA and CEQA when reviewing the project.

CEQA compliance can add time and costs to the development process, particularly if an EIR is required. However, the HAA provides certain protections to housing projects that meet local zoning and planning requirements, which can help streamline the development process and provide developers with greater certainty about the outcome of their applications. In some cases, the HAA can be used to override local requirements that would otherwise trigger CEQA review, although this may depend on the specific facts and circumstances of the project.

Please see our other related articles

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How Zoning Codes Effect Churches

Disclaimer: Every situation is different and particular facts may vary thereby changing or altering a possible course of action or conclusion. The information contained herein is intended to be general in nature as laws vary between federal, state, counties, and municipalities and therefore may not apply to any given matter. This information is not intended to be legal advice or relied upon as a legal opinion, course of action, accounting, tax, or other professional services. You should consult the proper legal or professional advisor knowledgeable in the area that pertains to your particular situation.

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