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WBK Industry News - State Regulatory Developments

CA Passes New Laws to Promote Housing Construction and Increase Affordable Housing

California has enacted several new housing-related laws this fall, including laws on residential zoning, reducing permitting times and costs, placing limits on local government’s ability to restrict residential construction, rent control, and tenant protections.

Of particular note, the Housing Crisis Act of 2019 provides that, except in limited circumstances:

  • Local government agencies must reduce permit processing times, and may not hold more than five public hearings before approving new housing projects;
  • Local governments must compile clear and detailed lists of what information is required for housing permit applications, and cannot increase permitting fees or impose new requirements once a complete application is submitted;
  • Local governments cannot change building design standards, reduce the number of allowable housing units, establish a population cap, or prohibit new housing construction; and
  • Developers may not demolish existing housing unless they construct at least an equal amount of new housing, and the developers must provide various benefits and protections to displaced residents.

This law goes into effect on January 1, 2020, and will remain in effect until January 1, 2025, unless extended by subsequent legislation.

Also, the Tenant Protection Act of 2019 will, among other things:

  • Prohibit landlords from increasing rent more than once per year;
  • Limit rent increases to 5% plus the percentage change in the cost of living, but no more than 10% total;
  • Require landlords to provide certain notices to tenants before terminating their tenancy;
  • Prohibit landlords from terminating tenancies absent certain just causes, after an opportunity to cure violations; and
  • Require landlords to provide tenants with relocation assistance in certain instances when tenants are evicted through no fault of their own.

That law goes into effect on January 1, 2020, and will remain in effect until January 1, 2025, unless extended by subsequent legislation.

The legislature passed and the governor signed several other laws which, among other things:

  • Streamline processes for developing new housing in areas affected by natural disasters;
  • Provide developers with exemptions to certain density requirements, and other incentives, for building properties containing all affordable housing; and
  • Require landlords to provide additional notice before certain rent increases for month-to-month tenants.