California Aims to Speed Up Residential Construction With New Bill

Senate Bill 330, also known as the Housing Crisis Act of 2019, aims to accelerate the homebuilding process in California.

abandoned homes being built housing crisisShutterstock/ Jennie Book

Last week the California State Senate approved the final version of Senate Bill 330, a law that seeks to eliminate or suspend practices that are detrimental to homebuilding in the state.

According to Curbed.com, the bill, also known as the Housing Crisis Act of 2019, will now be sent to the desk of California Governor Gavin Newsom, where he is expected to sign it into law. The purpose of SB 330 is to accelerate housing construction in California. It aims to do so in three key ways:

  • Reducing the amount of time it takes builders to obtain permits
  • Limiting fees on housing
  • Preventing local governments from placing moratoriums on the development of housing in specific areas

The bill also includes anti-displacement measures for people living in affordable or rent-controlled units. Developers would be unable to demolish such units unless they agree to rehouse tenants and offer them first right of return without raising the rent.

Despite having the largest population of any state in the U.S. by more than ten million people, California ranks 49th in the nation in the number of housing units per capita. There just aren’t enough homes being built to support the state’s ever-growing population. On top of that, the median cost of a home in California reached over $600,000 in 2018, more than double the national average.

“Our failure to build enough housing has led to the highest rents and home ownership costs in the nation,” said Nancy Skinner, the California Senator behind the bill. “My bill, SB 330, gives a green light to housing that already meets existing zoning and local rules and prevents new rules that might limit housing we so desperately need.”

The Housing Crisis Act of 2019 was approved by the Senate with a vote of 30 to 4. While clearly popular at the federal level, SB 330 was decidedly less popular with local governments. The League of California Cities, a group of California city officials, released a statement opposing the bill.

“We agree with the fundamental problem—there aren’t enough homes being built in California,” said the League. “The League of California Cities remains committed to working with the Legislature and the Governor on finding ways to help spur much needed housing construction statewide without arbitrarily limiting how cities address community growth impacts.”

Housing permits in California have seen a dramatic slowdown in the past year alone. According to data from the nonpartisan California Legislative Analysts Office, 61,200 housing permits were issued in the first seven months of 2019, which is a 17 percent decrease from the same time period in 2018. That 17 percent decrease is the most severe slowdown in the state since the Great Recession in 2007.

Should Governor Newsom sign the bill into law, it would go into effect in January 2020.

Did you know California is one of the highest-paying states for drywall contractors? Learn more about it here.

Next, learn what construction companies are starting to do for new workers to help solve the current labor shortage.