In a landmark move towards fostering affordable housing solutions, Senate Bill 4 (SB 4), also known as the Affordable Housing on Faith Lands Act, has emerged as a beacon of hope for California. The legislation aims to streamline the development process for religious organizations and nonprofit colleges, empowering them to build much-needed affordable housing on their properties. In this blog post, we’ll explore the key provisions of SB 4 and how it stands as a pivotal piece of legislation in the fight against the state’s housing crisis.
- Addressing Zoning Challenges:
Many faith-based organizations and nonprofit colleges in California find themselves hindered by local zoning codes that expressly prohibit multifamily housing on their lands. The current process requires them to undergo a lengthy and costly rezoning procedure, contributing to delays in providing affordable homes to Californians. SB 4 addresses this challenge by streamlining the permitting process and overriding local zoning restrictions, facilitating a more efficient path to affordable housing development.
- Reducing Risk and Uncertainty:
The rezoning process often exposes housing projects to an array of appeals and lawsuits, contributing to increased risk and uncertainty. SB 4 seeks to mitigate this by guaranteeing “by-right” approval for new homes, provided they align with objective building standards and comply with existing environmental protections. This proactive measure aims to expedite the development process, minimizing the hurdles that have traditionally led to skyrocketing housing costs.
- Worker-Centric Provisions:
SB 4 not only addresses housing challenges but also champions the rights and well-being of construction workers. Under the legislation, workers on SB 4 projects with over 10 homes will receive prevailing wages, promoting fair compensation. Additionally, projects with a minimum of 50 homes mandate contractors to offer apprentices employment and cover healthcare costs for construction workers and their dependents. These pro-worker provisions not only create new opportunities for the construction workforce but also contribute to building a skilled workforce essential for meeting the state’s housing demands.
- Affordability and Long-Term Commitment:
To ensure the lasting impact of affordable housing, SB 4 mandates that any homes built under the legislation must be deed-restricted affordable for a minimum of 55 years for rental properties and 45 years for homes offered for ownership. Density and height restrictions are aligned with existing housing element laws, maintaining appropriate standards for affordable housing.
SB 4 represents a significant step forward in California’s quest for affordable housing solutions. By streamlining development processes, mitigating risks, championing workers’ rights, and ensuring long-term affordability, the legislation embodies a comprehensive approach to address the state’s housing crisis. With its recent successful journey through the legislative process, SB 4 stands as a testament to the collaborative efforts of lawmakers and advocacy groups, offering a brighter and more affordable future for Californians.