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SAN FRANCISCO – Building on California’s historic efforts to address the housing crisis, Governor Gavin Newsom today signed legislation to streamline California’s housing approvals process and create thousands of well-paying jobs. Governor Newsom also announced $1 billion in rewards for 30 shovel-ready projects through the California Housing Accelerator, creating 2,755 new homes for Californians.

“California has made historic investments and taken unprecedented action to address the state’s housing crisis over the past four years,” Governor Newsom said. “But we recognize that there is still work to be done – this package of smart and much-needed legislation will help us build new homes while rebuilding the middle class. I am grateful to the leadership of the Legislative Assembly for agreeing to respond at this time to help address the affordability crisis that spans the entire country.

Governor Newsom signed the housing package alongside legislative, local, housing and labor leaders, at the future site of an affordable housing community in San Francisco.

“SB 6 and AB 2011 are game changers when it comes to producing desperately needed housing for all income levels,” said pro Tempore Senate Speaker Toni Atkins. “These two bills are the culmination of many years of work to find solutions that streamline the regulatory process and ensure workers who build homes receive fair wages. I commend Senator Anna Caballero and Assemblywoman Buffy Wicks for their dynamic teamwork and tireless dedication to serving their communities and our state. I am grateful to Governor Newsom for signing these bills into law, and to Senate Majority Leader Mike McGuire, Speaker Anthony Rendon and our labor partners for helping to make this victory possible. With these laws in place, we will soon see more construction and more jobs, and more families will be able to achieve the California dream.

“Today’s signatures demonstrate that we can make real progress in improving the outlook for housing in California, despite the many challenges we face,” Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon said. “In particular, AB 2011 shows what can be achieved when disparate defenders come together around a critical goal. And, of course, the Assembly is proud to have been able to team up with the Senate and the Governor to make all of this a reality.

AB 2011 by Assemblywoman Buffy Wicks (D-Oakland) and SB 6 by Senator Anna Caballero (D-Merced) together:

  • Help create much-needed new housing for low- and middle-income Californians by allowing housing to be built in underutilized commercial sites currently zoned for retail, offices and parking lots.
  • Generate thousands of jobs with health benefits and good wages – and encourage learning.
  • Increase the use of public transport by building housing near existing public transport or near corridors for new public transport.

Newsom also signed into law Sen. Scott Wiener’s (D-San Francisco) legislation to address housing shortages for students and faculty, Senate Bill 886.

SB 886, the Student and Faculty Housing Act, streamlines and expedites the production of student and faculty housing statewide and increases the supply of housing so that more students and faculty can live on the campus. SB 886 gives more students the opportunity to attend public colleges and universities in California. The legislation exempts student and faculty housing projects built on land owned by UC, CSU, or community colleges from CEQA. The CEQA has sometimes been used to stop or delay the construction of new student accommodation.

SB 886 effectively provides UC, CSU, and CCC with the same ability to create new student and faculty housing that many cities already have through state housing rationalization laws.

“For far too long, college students in California have been sleeping in their cars, crashing on friends’ couches, or being forced to stay in motels because their schools simply can’t build enough housing for them,” said the Senator Vienner. “But today is a new day for students and faculty struggling to find stable accommodation. Schools will be able to build on-campus housing faster and easier. College is a pathway to the middle class for so many low-income Californians — but college will never be truly accessible if students care about where they sleep rather than their grades. The SB 886 will have a tangible impact for so many people.

The lack of student housing in California is pushing students into homelessness. According to a 2021 report from the Office of the Legislative Analyst, 5% of UC students are currently homeless. This number rises to 16% if people living in hotels or transitional accommodation are included. For CSU students, the homelessness rate during the academic year is 10%. With more than 280,000 students currently enrolled in UC and 485,000 in CSU, this means more than 60,000 students at four-year universities in California are currently facing homelessness, and even more facing housing insecurity. .

The statistics are even more shocking for our community college system. In a 2019 survey of 40,000 California community college students, 19% of students had been homeless in the past year while 60% had experienced housing insecurity. With 1.8 million Californians currently attending community college, this means that more than one million community college students in this state are unable to find adequate and affordable housing while pursuing an education.

The lack of student housing also impacts California’s urgent need to expand access to public higher education for young Californians. The UC system, for example, received a record number of applications in 2021 and expanded enrollment as demand grew. Growth in admissions, combined with decades of limited housing development, has left campuses without the necessary shelter for their students or staff. Schools have revoked housing guarantees and waiting lists for housing continue to grow. In fall 2021 alone, 13 CSU campuses reported having 8,700 students on waiting lists for housing, while 8 UC campuses reported 7,500 students – a combined total of more than 16,000 students unable to access accommodation through the university they attend.

Although half of CSUs and all CUs have added housing capacity since 2015, the rate at which these projects are ready for occupancy has not matched the rise in admissions. One of the problems facing potential housing projects for students and faculty is the prevalence of CEQA appeals and lawsuits.

CEQA requires state and local agencies to assess and disclose the significant environmental impacts of projects they approve and to avoid or mitigate those impacts where possible. CEQA is a critically important law that protects the environment from projects such as refineries that pollute natural resources and endanger health, especially for historically marginalized and underserved populations.

However, the CEQA process is subject to appeals and lawsuits which can increase project costs and create delays for reasons entirely unrelated to the environment. It is not uncommon for a single lawsuit to take three to four years and millions of dollars to resolve, whereas pre-lawsuit appeals typically take six months to resolve. Delays and excessive costs associated with CEQA can slow projects down or even prevent proposals from moving forward.

The use of CEQA to delay or halt student and faculty housing projects has had a dramatic impact on California campuses, increasing the cost of living on and around campuses, pushing thousands of students and members of the staff experiencing housing insecurity or homelessness. Additionally, increasing student and faculty housing on campus is inherently beneficial to the environment, as students and faculty can walk to work or school, rather than long walks. driving distances due to the extreme cost of housing.

To qualify for this exemption, projects must be on a UC, CSU or CCC campus, use prevailing wages and a skilled and trained workforce, not use demarcated lands such as farmland, wetlands or a very high fire risk area, and not result in the demolition of rent-controlled or affordable housing. In addition, projects must conform to long-term development plans or master plans that were certified on or after January 1, 2018, have a transportation demand management program, and mitigate all construction impacts. Projects cannot result in net additional greenhouse gas emissions.

To qualify for this exemption, each building in a development must be LEED Platinum certified, use no more than 33% of the square footage for dining, academic, or student support spaces, and have a maximum of 2 000 units or 4,000 beds. Projects must be located within half a mile of a major transit stop, half a mile from the campus boundary, or have a 15% lower per capita VMT. Lead agencies must hold at least one hearing – with public notice – for a project.