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By Kim Murphy
Murphy and Murphy Southern California Realty 

Real Estate Round-up: Housing bills to take effect in California

 

Last updated 10/25/2019 at 12:37pm



I have written numerous articles about the housing shortage in California. Over the past four years, the California legislature has proposed bills meant to provide a "fix" to the shortage of housing. Many have gone down in defeat, either as a result of pressure from cities and counties or at the hands of the Appropriations Committee.

Recently, five bills, when bundled together, have been passed and were signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom. These bills will dramatically change the landscape of housing in California.

Assembly Bill 1482, the Tenant Protection Act of 2019, written by Assemblymember David Chiu, D-San Francisco, creates rent caps and allows evictions to occur only if "just cause" exists. An owner cannot decide to evict tenants if the owner wishes to move into the unit or if the owner wishes to sell the unit.

I have read countless articles reporting that landlords are evicting tenants, now, before the Jan. 1, 2020, implementation or other landlords who are choosing to sell their buildings which can prompt a rent increase from the new owner.

Senate Bill 330, the Housing Crisis Act of 2019, written by Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, prohibits a local agency from disapproving, or conditioning approval in a manner that renders infeasible, a housing development project for very low, low or moderate income households or an emergency shelter unless the local agency makes specified written findings based on a preponderance of the evidence in the record. A jurisdiction cannot down zone an area or raise fees on a project in an attempt to impede the development.

Assembly Bill 68 by Assemblymember Phil Ting, D-San Francisco; Assembly Bill 881 by Assemblymember Richard Bloom, D-Santa Monica, and Senate Bill 13 by Sen. Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont, work in tandem to open the flood gates to accessory dwelling units throughout the state.

AB 68 eliminates single family zoning across the state. It permits "triplex" housing to be permitted on every parcel. With this bill, owners are permitted to build an ADU on their parcel as well as build a junior ADU on that same parcel. Imagine that the neighbor builds an ADU on their property and also decides to convert their garage to an ADU. AB 68 makes that legal, even in communities with covenants, conditions and restrictions that prohibit it. Shock and awe, right?

With AB 881, Bloom forbids jurisdictions to impose excessive fees or additional red tape to build those ADUs. Wieckowski's SB 13 is the cherry on top, if you're in favor of all these additional dwelling units, because it exempts owners from being required to live-in one of the units of the potential triplex. Remember that imaginary neighbor, who decided to add an ADU and convert the garage to a junior ADU, they no longer must live on the property to build those additional units. Shock and awe, times two.

Currently, owners can build a single additional unit on their property, subject to setbacks and zoning. The owner generally lives in one of the units. San Diego County recognized this idea as a valuable tool to help increase housing units. County supervisors voted to waive all permitting fees for ADUs, which will save owners an average of $14,000.

In September, the supervisors added an additional incentive by offering two permit-ready, no-cost floor plans sized at 600 and 1,200 square feet. The floor plans are posted online for owners to access, free of charge. They plan on adding additional floor plans soon.

The new laws exceed the current laws and processes and accelerate the pace and quantity of housing without allowing the current laws to work. In response to the original 2016 ADU legislation, permit applications increased nearly 50% to 7,000 units. It is expected to hit 10,000 units in 2020. The new laws can potentially open the floodgates for ADUs.

So, residents are probably asking, why am I concerned? Any person who knows me or has read my column knows that I am in favor of sensible housing. What is sensible housing to me? Adding ADUs to parcels that are larger and can accommodate the extra unit, while not impacting the character of the neighborhood, that's sensible. I also believe that it would have been wise to let the dust settle on the current laws before adding the big changes that the new bills bring.

I cannot imagine what life would be like, if every parcel in Fallbrook decided to build an ADU – because now they can – and also decided to convert their garage to a junior ADU – because they can – and decided to move out – because they can – and let things play out. That is exactly what this combination of laws allows.

Have California legislators lost complete touch with the people they are elected to serve? Voters voted down rent control in 2018 and yet the Legislature passed AB 1482, despite our votes. Now because the Legislature couldn't find a way to incentivize new housing starts by decreasing fees and removing red tape for builders, they passed legislation that removes all restrictions, even within communities or homeowners' associations that collectively decided against it.

California needs housing. That is a fact. Cities and communities should be accountable to contributing to housing in an equitable manner to the regional needs, but those cities and counties should be able to formulate their own specific housing plan and not have it overridden by state legislators.

The combination of these most current laws is contributing to a state of renters, not owners. Incentivizing a "renter state" will create a much larger crisis than the current shortage of housing.

Kim Murphy can be reached at kim@murphy-realty.com or (760) 415-9292 or at 130 N Main Avenue, in Fallbrook. Her broker license is #01229921, and she is on the board of directors for the California Association of Realtors.

 

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