Governor signs Wieckowski's housing bill to eliminate charter cities' loophole

September 27, 2018

SACRAMENTO – Senator Bob Wieckowski’s (D-Fremont) bill to eliminate a housing loophole that allows charter cities to reduce sites zoned for affordable housing, even if the action is inconsistent with the cities’ adopted general plans, was signed today by Governor Jerry Brown. SB 1333 is supported by housing advocates who at a time when the state is in the middle of a severe affordability shortage want all cities to do their fair share to end the crisis.

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’s shortage of affordable housing is a huge factor pushing people into poverty,” said Wieckowski, a member of the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee.  “Unfortunately, the court ruling would allow the more than 120 charter cities in California to play by a different set of rules and not follow through on affordable housing when it is desperately needed.  SB 1333 makes sure they cannot get state approval for their general plan and then immediately undermine it by approving a specific development plan that ignores the need for affordable units.  This bill restores consistency and fairness as we strive to meet our housing challenges.”

But only about 25 percent of charter cities have adopted consistency rules that zoning and subdivision approvals must be aligned with the cities’ general plan.   

“SB 1333 requires all cities to play by the same rules with respect to achieving their stated goals for ensuring housing is available for residents at all income levels,” said Alexander Harden, policy advocate of the Western Center on Law and Poverty.  “Charter cities will no longer be exempt from the common-sense requirement that once local land use plans are adopted, local land use decisions must be consistent with those plans.”

In addition to the Western Center on Law and Poverty, SB 1333 is also supported by 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.