So long, NIMBYs? Gov. Brown’s housing proposal could mean sweeping Bay Area changes

by Roland Li : bizjournals – excerpt

Gov. Jerry Brown has proposed sweeping statewide legislation that would allow new market-rate projects with onsite affordable housing to be approved “as of right,” in potentially California’s most significant housing policy change in years.

The proposal has big ramifications for the Bay Area, where many cities and well-organized residents’ groups have long fought residential development.

The trailing legislation to the state’s 2016-2017 budget would require state assembly and senate approval. Under the proposal, new projects with 20 percent affordable housing for tenants making no more than 80 percent of the area median income or projects with 10 percent affordable housing near transit would be exempt from most local reviews.

That would be a sharp break from the current policy of most Bay Area cities, including San Francisco, where each new housing project is subject to discretionary review and usually takes years for approval.

The move is a major step after Brown has been criticized by affordable housing advocates for ignoring, or even obstructing, funding for affordable housing. In 2011, Brown eliminated Redevelopment Agencies, which were the biggest source of funding for affordable housing, and last year he vetoed bills that would have provided more funding. Both steps were to improve the state’s finances, he said.

The new measure is consistent with Brown’s fiscal conservatism, as no new funding for affordable housing is proposed. But Brown is taking a significant step to reduce the approvals process for new projects, despite previously saying that potential change was limited… (more)

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