2023 Trend Watch: California Laws Favor Housing Developers

Photo credit: Semantha Norris, originally published in the Santa Monica Daily Press article “New housing laws aimed to streamline building process take effect in 2024” on 1/1/24.

The Golden State legislature in 2023 continued its push for housing development reform, in effect removing barriers while up-zoning much of the state. In particular, says a report from the Santa Monica Daily Press, the new laws will limit environmental review and take the unusual step of targeting “middle” market housing along with affordable housing and lower income focus.

From the SMDN report by the news group Cal Matters: “… a host of new laws will make it more ifficult for opponents of proposed housing projects to use the California Environmental Quality Act to delay certain types of housing projects. Oakland Democratic Assemblymember¬†Buffy Wicks¬†wrote a bill that instructs judges not to consider the noise of future residents as a pollutant in need of environmental mitigation, a response to one of the most¬†headline grabbing¬†California court decisions of the year.”

The report also noted that the trend “… was especially true for developers of purpose-built affordable housing, per¬†policy analysts¬†at UC Berkeley‚Äôs Terner Center for Housing Innovation in an end-of-year legislative summary.¬† Lawmakers, the analysts wrote, in the continuation of a ‘remarkable run over the last several years,’ gave ‘more flexibility to exceed or override local zoning, greater certainty on the timing and likelihood of planning approvals, and substantial relief from [environmental] review and litigation.'”¬†

You can find the Santa Monica Daily Press story here.