Sen. Skinner Announces Housing Production Bills

March 12, 2021

State Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, announced two pieces of legislation today that are designed to help California address its housing shortage and spur the creation of more housing units, particularly for low-income and unsheltered Californians.

The first bill, SB 8, is a follow-up to Sen. Skinner’s groundbreaking legislation, SB 330, also known as the Housing Crisis Act of 2019. SB 330, which went into effect in January 2020, has jumpstarted housing production in California, even during the COVID-induced economic downturn. But SB 330 is scheduled to expire in 2025. SB 8 would extend SB 330’s provisions until 2030 and would add clarifying language to ensure that the bill’s original intent of streamlining the production of housing that meets a local jurisdiction’s existing zoning and other rules is met.

The second bill in the housing production package is SB 290. It reforms California’s density bonus law in order to boost production of affordable housing units and housing for low-income college students. SB 290 is a continuation of Sen. Skinner’s SB 1085 from last year, which nearly won passage in the Legislature before time ran out on the last day of the 2020 session.

“California continues to face a severe housing shortage and affordability crisis. Rent and home prices remain too high because we’ve failed to build enough housing for decades. The good news is SB 330, the Housing Crisis Act of 2019, is working, more housing is getting built. I’ve introduced SB 8 so the success of SB 330 can continue for five additional years. My other housing bill, SB 290, will utilize California’s density bonus law to add housing for low-income college students.”

Since SB 330 went into effect on Jan. 1, 2020, the landmark legislation has streamlined the approval process of housing projects throughout the Bay Area and California. Without it, numerous housing development projects likely would still be facing years of hearings to win approval. But the full benefits of SB 330 have yet to be realized due to the economic downturn caused by the pandemic.

By extending the provisions of SB 330 until 2030, SB 8 will provide California with more time to recover from the recession and meet its housing production goals. SB 8 also clarifies language in SB 330 to ensure that housing projects don’t get ensnared by bureaucratic red tape, particularly housing for unsheltered people. SB 8 is also part of Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins’ 2021 housing package.

SB 290, meanwhile, is comparable to the final version of SB 1085 from last year that nearly won approval. SB 1085 gained overwhelming support in the state Assembly, garnering a 67-3 vote. But the bill was one of several pieces of legislation that did not get a final vote in the Senate before the 2020 legislative session ended.

Scheduled for its first hearing next week, SB 290 improves the state’s density bonus law for housing, which allows developers to build larger projects if they include affordable units. SB 290 makes it easier to build density bonus projects and provides incentives to build affordable housing for low-income students.

“The economic hardship caused by COVID 19 has put an even greater spotlight on California’s housing shortage and affordability crisis,” Sen. Skinner added. “SB 8 and SB 290 are essential tools to help us get more housing quickly and affordably.”

 

Sen. Nancy Skinner represents the 9th Senate District and is chair of the Senate Budget Committee and vice chair of the Legislative Women’s Caucus.