Laying the Foundation: Senator Skinner’s Housing Bills Clear State Senate

June 1, 2017

Today the California State Senate passed a package of bills aimed at alleviating the state’s housing crisis. Among these bills Senate Bill 166 and 167 authored by Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley).

“The Senate has shown great leadership passing a substantive housing package,” stated Senator Skinner. “A significant part of California’s housing crisis is lack of supply. SB 166 and SB 167 help minimize obstacles to building new housing.”

SB 166 amends California’s existing ‘No Net Loss’ zoning law, ensuring that cities maintain an ongoing supply of identified sites for housing construction at each income level. For example, if a local government approves a commercial development on a site previously identified for housing, then SB 166 requires a city to identify a new site to accommodate this displaced housing.

“The first step to building more housing is making sure cities identify enough sites,” said Skinner.  

SB 167 compliments SB 166 by ensuring more housing is built once sites are identified. SB 167 strengthens the state’s existing Housing Accountability Act (HAA), which limits a local entity’s ability to stall a housing project that otherwise satisfies city planning and zoning requirements. The bill strengthens the HAA by increasing the burden of proof a local entity has to meet to deny a project, awarding damages to plaintiffs if a local government is found to be acting in “bad faith,” and requiring courts to leverage fines on cities not complying with the HAA.

“SB 167 strengthens the Housing Accountability Act to help limit the denial of good housing projects that otherwise meet all local laws,” Senator Skinner states. 

The Senate’s housing bills, including SB 166 and SB 167, now move to the State Assembly for consideration.