The San Francisco Planning Director issued a Bulletin in December 2017 explaining how SB 35 will be implemented locally now that it is effective, as of January 1, 2018. Among other things, the Bulletin includes a new ministerial Planning Code exception process for qualifying 100% affordable housing projects.
On October 6, 2017, Governor Brown approved Assembly Bill (AB) 246, extending certain CEQA litigation streamlining provisions under the Jobs and Economic Improvement Through Environmental Leadership Act of 2011 (the Act) for two years. The Governor may now certify projects as eligible for streamlining until January 1, 2020. Projects that are certified for streamlining have until January 1, 2021 to complete the CEQA process and obtain project approval.
The Act provides three key litigation streamlining benefits to qualifying projects:
As of January 1, 2018, California’s cities, counties, and charter cities are required to either adopt an Environmental Justice Element in their General Plan or integrate Environmental Justice policies and goals into the elements of their General Plan “upon the adoption or next revision of two or more elements concurrently.” Gov. Code Sec. 65302(h)(2).
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors is considering minor modifications to the Planning Code definition of Gross Floor Area. The Planning Department characterizes these changes as “good government” measures to clarify the Code and further the City’s sustainable transportation goals.
On September 29, 2017, Governor Brown signed into law a 15-bill housing package. A few of the key components, including approval streamlining, are summarized below. The housing package did not include AB 915, which would have authorized the City and County of San Francisco to impose local inclusionary requirements on bonus units created under the State Density Bonus Law. San Francisco adopted legislation in August that imposes inclusionary housing requirements on bonus units in the form of a fee, and the Legislature’s failure to pass AB 915 creates uncertainty about its enforceability.
The California Supreme Court has just granted broad authority to counties and cities to impose documentary transfer tax (“DTT”) on certain transfers of interests in legal entities. Before June 29, 2017, tax practitioners’ prevailing view was that documentary transfer tax generally could not be imposed on transfers of interests in legal entities. There were two exceptions. First, for transfers of partnership interests that caused a partnership to terminate for tax purposes. Second, for charter cities that were permitted to enact their own DTT ordinances and had, in fact, enacted broader DTT rules. No more. On June 29, the California Supreme Court decided in 926 North Ardmore Avenue, LLC v. County of Los Angeles1 that all California counties and cities may impose DTT on certain transfers of interests in legal entities.
Barring any last-minute surprises, the Board of Supervisors will finally adopt compromise inclusionary housing legislation on July 18th that would, as shown in our summary comparison chart, make many major changes to the City’s existing program. The key provisions of the legislation affecting large projects with 25 or more residential units can be found in our prior blog post on this topic.
Recent noteworthy changes, including an important change to existing grandfathering protections for certain pipeline projects, are summarized below.
The California Court of Appeal for the Sixth Appellate District recently held, in Aptos Council v. County of Santa Cruz, 10 Cal. App. 5th 266 (2017) that environmental review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) need only analyze environmental impacts of development resulting from a zoning amendment if the development is reasonably foreseeable. This decision provides helpful guidance to municipalities considering zoning and land use plan amendments that permit development at higher densities.
The Land Use and Transportation Committee of the Board of Supervisors is now scheduled to consider compromise inclusionary housing legislation on June 12th, following a continuance at the Committee’s June 5th hearing. As shown in our summary comparison chart, the legislation would generally retain existing grandfathering protections as to the total percentage of affordable units for certain pipeline projects, but would make many other major changes to the City’s existing program.
As reported in our prior blog post, Assemblymember Phil Ting (D – San Francisco) introduced amendments to the State Density Bonus law (AB 915) that would specifically require all local jurisdictions to impose their local inclusionary housing requirements on density bonus units, unless the jurisdiction expressly exempts them by ordinance.