Wieckowski housing bills advance in state Senate

April 25, 2018

SACRAMENTO – The Senate Governance and Finance Committee today passed two significant housing bills authored by Sen. Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont) to reduce the cost of building an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) and to require California charter cities follow state planning and zoning laws for housing.  

SB 1333 strengthens the obligation of the 121 California charter cities to make sites available for housing development to meet the needs of their residents at all income levels.

“Charter cities are given considerable autonomy regarding land use regulation, but our Constitution makes an exception when a regulation is a matter of statewide concern, such as our housing affordability crisis,” said Sen. Wieckowski, a member of the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee.  “Charter cities must develop a general plan, but are not required to be consistent with the general plan. SB 1333 closes this loophole by applying state planning and zoning laws to charter cities, and ensuring that their ordinances, specific plans, and development agreements are consistent with their plans for affordable housing outlined in their housing elements.”

SB 831 reduces or eliminates the amount of fees that can be charged by local agencies on ADUs, creates an amnesty program to bring pre-existing, unpermitted accessory units up to code and increases accountability by allowing the state Department of Housing and Community Development to notify the Attorney General of non-compliant ADU ordinances.

“ADUs are unlike other forms of housing because they are built at the request of a homeowner trying to provide a living space for an aging parent or a child returning from college,” Wieckowski said. “The units are cheaper and quicker to build than a single-family home or multi-family building.”

SB 831 builds on the success of two previous Wieckowski ADU bills – SB 1069 and SB 229.  Those bills resulted in a 63 percent increase in the number of ADU permits from 2016 to 2017, twice as high as any other state in the nation. 

Representatives from the Bay Area Council and AARP California testified in support of SB 831, touting ADUs ability to help people of all ages.

“We believe that they offer multiple benefits,” said Matt Regan, senior vice president of public policy for the Bay Area Council.

Senator Wieckowski represents the 10th District, which includes southern Alameda County and parts of Santa Clara County.