What is SB 35?

California Senate Bill 35 (SB 35) is a bill streamlining housing construction in California counties and cities that fail to build enough housing to meet state mandated housing construction requirements.

Scott Wiener introduced SB 35 to increase housing supply in cities that are not producing enough housing, by encouraging cities to either increase housing development on their own or be forced to accept housing development. After the bill’s passage, Weiner claimed: “SB 35 will retain local control for those cities that are producing their share of housing, but create a more streamlined path for housing creation in those cities that are blocking housing or ignoring their responsibility to build.”

The California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) on Nov. 29, 2018, issued its final Guidelines for the implementation of Senate Bill 35 of 2017 (SB 35).

SB 35 requires most local governments to issue housing developers streamlined ministerial approvals, exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), in 90 to 180 days if a project complies with the jurisdiction's objective planning standards, pays construction workers prevailing wages, includes a specified minimum amount of affordable housing, and meets SB 35's other qualifying criteria. The Legislature delegated to HCD the authority to issue guidelines to supplement and clarify SB 35's requirements.

The Guidelines clarify that local jurisdictions can only apply standards in effect on the date of project application submission, and cannot impose application requirements beyond those required to confirm that the SB 35 criteria apply. The Guidelines also clarify the type of standards that qualify as "objective" standards. HCD also strongly emphasizes in the Guidelines that the statute and Guidelines are constitutional in all respects, and pre-empt all inconsistent local ordinances.

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