2020 California Housing Legislation, Part 4: The 34 That Remain

Due to COVID’s impact on the state budget and time legislators and their staff have to deal with other issues, 2020’s ambitious housing package, which started the year with over 100 bills, are now down to 34. Here they are.

Assembly Bills

These have passed the State Assembly and now have to be voted on by the State Senate.

Senate Bills

These have passed the State Senate and now have to be voted on by the State Assembly.

Downloadable PDF

Clarifies that a house can add both an Accessory Dwelling Unit and a Junior Accessory Dwelling unit. Last year’s set of bills that allowed more ADU’s (backyard cottages, in-law and basement apartments, etc). had some unclear language, AB953 corrects that.

Makes it so that tenants cannot be evicted for unpaid rent from during COVID state of emergency, or 90 days after. The rent is converted into regular consumer debt. Tenants would still owe the money, similar to how they would owe a credit card bill, but can’t be evicted for it. Based on similar laws passed by some cities, such as San Francisco and Oakland.

Allows reduction in parking at churches and other religious facilities when building housing on the lot. Only half the spaces need to remain. Also known as the “YIGBY” (Yes in God’s BackYard) bill.

Right now, the maximum density bonus is 35%. To get that bonus, a project must either set aside 11% of units for very low income (30–50% of median income), 20% of units for low income (50–80% of median), or 40% for moderate income (80–120%). AB2345 would increase the maximum bonus to 50%. To qualify for this new tier, a project would either need 15% very low income, 33% low income, or 44% moderate income.

  • Note: This bill will need to be coordinated with SB1085.

Declares and funds state policy that all children and families have a right to housing. Takes effect in 2026. Based on similar policies in New York City and elsewhere that have reduced the number and percentage of people living unsheltered outside.

Bans the forced sale of a home by someone a homeowner owes unsecured consumer debt to (such as medical debt, credit card debt, etc).

Allows cities and counties to apply Rent Control laws to mobile home parks built on or after 1990. Currently only pre-1990 mobile home parks can be rent controlled.

Requires 60 days notice, govt approval, relocation plan/payments when a mobile home park is closed. Also requires impact mitigation to subdivide a MH park or floating home marina (houseboats).

Extends the AB1482 Rent Cap to mobile homes. (Maximum annual rent increase of 5% plus inflation, or 10%, whichever is lower).

Encourages cities to rezone single family houses to allow duplexes, triplexes, & fourplexes, by allowing it to count towards meeting part of their Regional Housing Needs Allocation goal. RHNA is where cities are required to zone for new housing every 8 years.

Corrects a cross-referencing error in last year’s AB1482 rent cap and tenant protection bill.

Legalizes housing in commercial areas. To be eligible, at least 20% of the homes in a project would have to be affordable to lower income households.

Homeowner associations would no longer be allowed to ban owners from renting out a house or condo.

Directs state and local government to create plan to reduce homelessness by 90% by 2028.

Allocates $2 billion to reduce homelessness. Money would go to a continuum of care that includes shelters, transitional housing, and permanent supportive housing (apartments with services available in the same building).

Allows school districts to use affordable housing tax credit funding to build homes specifically for teachers and other public employees.

Requires cities and counties to inspect housing if residents complain about a lead poisoning hazard.

$2 billion per year in funding for affordable housing for the 2020–2021 fiscal year and following 4 years. (Earlier version of this bill had $10 billion/year, amount reduced due to state budget crisis)

Allows these types of institutions to build affordable housing on their land, even if it’s not currently zoned for residential uses.

Allows cities to rezone land near transit or jobs for up to 10 homes per parcel without going through California Environmental Quality Act CEQA process. This saves time and money.

Bans evicting mobile home owners or tenants affected by COVID19 during a state of emergency and for 120 days after end of emergency.

Continues California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) streamlining for large projects (over $100 million) for 4 more years. Extends streamlining to smaller projects ($15–100 million). This would allow projects to break ground sooner and spend less money on pre-construction costs.

Allows local rent control ordinances to apply to mobile home leases longer than 1 year. Applies to rental agreements started on Feb 13, 2020 or after. This is so that mobile home residents won’t be forced to choose between low rents and the stability of a longer lease.

Several minor changes to miscellaneous state housing laws.

Raises the maximum fine for illegal short term rentals (such as airbnb’s) from $1000 to $5000.

Requires a foreclosure seller to receive offers from public agencies, nonprofits, and potential owner-occupiers. Also sets a 3-property limit that any buyer can purchase at an auction.

Increases density bonus for buildings that have moderate income (80–120% of median income) or very low (30–50%) income units. Also makes it easier to get zoning concessions.

  • Note: Some concerns have been raised about this bill due to the potential impact to production of low income (50–80% median income) units. This bill will need to be coordinated with AB2345.

Allows duplexes or dividing a lot into 2 lots in non-rural single-family zones.
Does not allow demolition of rent controlled homes or housing that has had a tenant in the last 3 years.

Reduces the number of restrictions or standards that cities can place on the opening of new emergency shelters.

Allows tenants in certain buildings who want to build a credit history to request that their landlord report their rent payments to a credit agency.

Allows tenants to end a lease early if they or an immediate family member is victim of a crime causing injury or death.

  • Note: Previously the bill also had a part that allowed governments to enforce last year’s Rent Cap/Anti Gouging and eviction protection bill AB1482, however, that part was amended out to get the votes needed to pass SB1190 in the Senate.

Creates incentive grants for cities to rezone commercial land for housing. The grants would make up for the loss of sales tax revenue.

Legalizes housing in commercial areas. Projects on sites that have a 50% or higher vacancy rate for the last 3 years get streamlined approvals.

Creates a program where the state pays the rent and tenants pay back the state. Covers rent during COVID state of emergency and to-be-decided days after. Landlord must agree to participate, but can’t evict if they don’t.

Artist and Designer in Berkeley, California