Public Law

Public Law Journal: Summer/Fall 2019, Vol. 42, Nos. 3 & 4

Housing Law Update: Summary of California’s New Housing Laws

By John D. Bakker, Jon E. Goetz, and Alex J. Mog

John D. Bakker (Principal), Jon E. Goetz (Principal), and Alex J. Mog (Associate) are attorneys in Meyers Nave’s Municipal & Special District Law Practice Group and Real Estate, Housing and Economic Development Practice Group.

In an effort to address California’s housing crisis, Governor Gavin Newsom signed more than 20 bills into law during the 2019 legislative session. Each new law is designed to tackle a different component of the housing challenge and they reflect different approaches to solving the problem. Together, the new laws create new, complex and sometimes vague requirements for local jurisdictions and public agencies that are involved in the state’s housing sector. Complying with these new laws impacts the daily operation and long-term planning of public entities.

Many of the 20+ new laws reflect recent trends in state housing legislation. A number of the bills impose further restrictions on local government discretion over housing project applications, building upon recent efforts of the Legislature to streamline the approval process by replacing subjective approval processes with more objective and transparent standards. The legislation continues recent efforts of the state to increase housing density by strengthening and broadening the applicability of the state’s density bonus and accessory dwelling unit laws. The legislation also furthers state efforts to facilitate homeless shelters and programs. Other bills address the housing problem in new ways. A series of bills aim to make more government owned land available for the construction of affordable housing by reforming the process for the sale and lease of land by municipalities, and expanding notice requirements for available land. Other legislation seeks to extend protections to housing tenants, setting caps on annual rent increases and establishing "just cause" requirements for evictions, as well as extending nondiscrimination laws to holders of government housing vouchers.

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