Assembly passes Wieckowski housing bill closing loophole for charter cities

August 30, 2018

SACRAMENTO – With California in a severe housing crisis, a bill eliminating a loophole that allows charter cities to undermine the state’s housing element law was approved today by the state Assembly.  SB 1333, authored by Senator Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont), now heads back to the Senate where it is expected to win final passage.

Cities are required to identify sites zoned to meet their share of the regional housing need. Last year, a California appellate court decision in Kennedy Commission v. City of Huntington Beach held that charter cities are permitted to adopt specific plans that are inconsistent with their adopted housing elements and can eliminate sites zoned for affordable housing.

“California is experiencing a substantial shortage of affordable housing that is pushing more families into poverty,” said Wieckowski, a member of the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee.  “We cannot allow roughly 100 cities to exempt themselves from a crucial part of our planning and zoning obligations. Each city should do its fair share to help eliminate this housing crisis.”

All cities must adopt a general plan, which includes a housing element, evaluating a community’s existing and projected housing needs and identifying land adequate to fulfill that need.  But the state has 121 charter cities and only about 25 percent of them have adopted consistency rules that zoning and subdivision approvals must be aligned with the cities’ general plan.   

“To address this state’s growing housing affordability crisis, we need to be sure that all cities are doing their part and playing by the same rules,” said Brian Augusta of the California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation.  “SB 1333 closes a loophole in state planning law to ensure that every city is maximizing opportunities for more affordable housing.”

SB 1333 is also supported by Western Center on Law and Poverty, Public Interest Law Project, California Renters Legal Advocacy and Education Fund, California YIMBY and Resources for Community Development.

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