Like so much of this unprecedented year, the 2019-2020 California Legislative Session ended with unexpected twists and pointed disappointments as the Assembly and Senate wrestled with the coronavirus pandemic, social distancing protocol, and friction between Assembly and Senate leadership in the final hours of the session, ultimately resulting in a number of highly anticipated housing bills failing to pass.  High profile bills that died include SB 995 (extending the former AB 900 expedited CEQA review process for environmental leadership development projects through 2024); SB 1120 (providing ministerial approval and subdivision processes for residential duplexes on single-family zoned lots); and SB 1085 (expanding the Density Bonus Law to include qualifying moderate-income rental projects and student housing projects, among other changes).
Continue Reading 2020 Housing Legislation Overview: Started with a Bang, Ended with a Whimper

On April 29, 2020, six Bay Area counties – Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara – as well as the City of Berkeley, each issued substantially similar updates to their extended local shelter-in-place orders, with welcome implications for construction projects. The new local orders will go into effect on May 4, 2020 and extend through May 31, 2020.
Continue Reading Bay Area Construction Resumes Under New Orders

SB 50, Senator Scott Wiener’s bill to boost housing production near transit and job centers, has been defeated. The bill fell three votes short on Wednesday, and Wiener was unsuccessful in his reconsideration request today.

The bill was stalled in the Senate last May when the Chair of the Appropriations Committee deferred action on

On March 3, San Francisco voters will consider Proposition E (“San Francisco Balanced Development Act”)[1], which links the City’s “Proposition M” office allocation scheme, originally approved by voters in 1986, to affordable housing production. Proposition M currently limits the amount of office space that the City may approve annually, with 875,000 square feet added to the allocation for large office projects (50,000 square feet or more) each year in October.
Continue Reading SF’s Proposition E Links Office Allocation to Housing Production

The Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee announced that Senator Wiener’s SB 50 is now a two-year bill, which means that it will not be eligible for vote until January.   We will continue to track the status of SB 50 and any future amendments or successor legislation that may be introduced.

On April 24, Senator Scott Wiener’s SB 50 passed the Senate Governance and Finance Committee with bipartisan support, incorporating amendments that limit the bill’s scope. It is scheduled to be heard by the Senate Appropriations Committee on May 13. As previously reported, SB 50 mandates a combination of “equitable communities incentives” and a streamlined, ministerial approval process designed to promote housing production for qualifying projects on eligible sites. The amendments are part of a compromise agreement with Senator Mike McGuire and incorporate provisions from his previously competing measure, SB 4.
Continue Reading Senator Wiener’s SB 50 Moves Forward with Compromise Amendments

Last spring, we reported on Senator Scott Wiener’s SB 827, which proposed major increases in height and density for qualifying housing developments.  Battle lines quickly emerged, with supporters claiming that the legislation was a bold, necessary solution to the housing affordability and climate change crises, and opponents asserting that it was a threat to neighborhood stability and an invitation to gentrification.  The bill was ultimately killed in Committee.  On December 3, Senator Wiener introduced SB 50
Continue Reading Senator Wiener Introduces Recrafted Legislation Providing Height and Density Bonuses, Other Incentives for “Transit-Rich” and “Jobs-Rich” Projects

On September 30, Governor Brown signed AB 2923, which could pave the way for BART to develop up to approximately 20,000 residential units, plus about 4.5 million square feet of office and commercial uses, on about 250 acres of BART-owned land. It requires cities and counties to adopt local zoning standards for BART-owned land that conform to BART Transit Oriented Development (TOD) zoning standards and establishes a streamlined approval process for qualifying projects. The law sunsets on January 1, 2029.
Continue Reading Major BART Housing Bill Passes

SF Planning Dept. – Central SoMa boundary map

[Originally posted on March 23, 2018, updated on April 11, 2018]

Following more than six years of planning and public outreach, the City initiated the formal approval process for the Central SoMa Plan (Plan) at the Board of Supervisors and Planning Commission on February 27 and March 1, respectively. The Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) and Planning Commission held informational hearings on the Plan on March 21 and March 22, respectively. The HPC also considered initiation of the formal landmark designation process for certain buildings and districts identified during the Plan process. The Planning Commission is scheduled to consider the EIR and approvals on May 10, with the Board considering the legislation thereafter.


Continue Reading San Francisco Finally Poised to Adopt Central SoMa Plan

[Originally posted on March 19, 2018, updated on April 11, 2018]

Building on the state’s major housing legislation from 2017, Senator Scott Wiener’s SB 827 proposes major increases in height and density for qualifying housing developments. A project would generally qualify if it is within either a 1/2 mile radius of a major transit stop or a 1/4 mile radius of a stop on a high-quality bus corridor, as defined in the bill. The legislation was introduced in January and was amended on March 1 and April 9, principally to address tenant relocation and inclusionary housing concerns and to extend the operative date of the bill to January 1, 2021 (with a potential one-time one-year extension) to address timing concerns raised by San Francisco and other local jurisdictions. For qualifying sites, permitted heights would be at least 45 to 55 feet (originally, 45 to 85 feet), regardless of local height limits, unless the height increase would result in a specific, adverse impact, as defined in the bill. Major areas of the state, including large portions of several of its largest cities, would be affected.


Continue Reading Land Use Showdown: Battle Lines Are Drawn in SB 827 Housing Density and Height Debate