A construction worker builds housing in Huntington Beach, Calif., on March 17, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)
A California bill recently signed into law will allow for a more streamlined process for building affordable housing, by allowing developers to avoid some environmental reviews usually required under state law.
Senate Bill 406
, authored by Sen. Dave Cortese (D-San Jose), was signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom Aug. 22 and will allow developers to skip repetitive reviews that are currently required under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) while keeping California’s main environmental law intact, according to an Aug. 17 press release
by Mr. Cortese’s office.
“SB 406 cuts red tape without compromising on environmental protection. This bill will streamline permitting and speed up affordable housing production for people with the greatest need,” said Mr. Cortese.
According to his office, SB 406 will eliminate a second environmental review that is usually required for local agencies that help fund affordable housing projects, so long as the project has its own review conducted by a public agency, to avoid repetition.
For example, in 2016 Mr. Cortese—who was then a Santa Clara County Supervisor— championed Measure A, a voter-approved $950 million bond to help create roughly 4,800 units of affordable housing, according to the press release.
Public agencies, like the county of Santa Clara, often provide low-interest loans for affordable housing, but when they do, the assistance can trigger an additional environmental review under CEQA. SB 406 will now allow developers to seek an exemption from the second review.
“This financial assistance can trigger an evaluation under CEQA, in addition to the separate, independent CEQA review conducted on the project itself,” the press release says of the former process. “Implementing CEQA this way is ineffective, repetitive, and ultimately causes delays and increased expenses for urgently needed affordable housing.”