The state of California recently passed a number of new laws restricting exclusionary zoning, making it easier for property owners to build new homes on their land. The LA times summarizes them:
California lawmakers on Monday approved legislation to expand a housing law that has led to the construction of thousands of new homes, despite initial opposition from labor unions and environmental groups.
Senate Bill 423 would extend for 10 years a state housing law that expires in 2026, allowing developers to skip much of the bureaucratic process often blamed for blocking construction of multifamily projects, albeit only in cities that are lagging behind. affected by achieving the housing targets imposed by the state. The legislation now heads to Governor Gavin Newsom, who has until October 14 to sign or veto hundreds of bills….
A recent report from the UC Berkeley Terner Center for Housing Innovation found that the 2017 law contributed to more than 18,000 proposed new units in California, nearly two-thirds of which are considered 100% affordable. It’s a small dent in a state that must plan 2.5 million new homes over the next eight years, with at least 1 million set aside for low- to very low-income households…
The Senate on Monday easily approved another major housing proposal, also from Wiener, that would allow nonprofit colleges and faith-based organizations such as mosques, synagogues and churches to quickly build affordable housing on their properties. That measure, Senate Bill 4, is expected to free up about 171,000 acres of land for the development of affordable housing projects, according to another report from the UC Berkeley Terner Center for Housing Innovation.
“Passage of SB 4 and 423 will add powerful tools to our arsenal in the fight against the housing crisis,” Wiener said in a statement after the votes. “Californians overwhelmingly want these homes built, which is why both bills passed by wide margins, with bipartisan support.”
As the article notes, in order to get SB 423 passed, Senator Wiener had to agree to stricter labor rules for projects authorized by the law. Unfortunately, that can reduce the amount of construction that takes place and make it more expensive. Still, the two bills are notable steps in the right direction. Wiener deserves much credit for his long and ongoing efforts to advance YIMBY (“Yes in My Backyard”) zoning reforms in America’s most populous state.
California has some of the strictest zoning restrictions in the country. Its size and economic importance make reforms particularly important. Moreover, the policies introduced there often have an exemplary effect on other states, especially on liberal ‘blue’ jurisdictions.
At the risk of annoying regular readers who may be tired of me emphasizing this, zoning exclusion is the most important property rights issue of our time. It suppresses economic growth and is a major obstacle to opportunity for the poor and disadvantaged. Liberals, conservatives, and libertarians all have compelling reasons to oppose it and push for reform.
These new laws in California reinforce recent successes in several other states. Hopefully the positive trends will continue, although there have been some setbacks.