Developers in California know that getting approval to build new housing projects can be extremely difficult, time-consuming, and expensive. But a new policy is finally coming into full effect which could help developers cut through those barriers. SB 35, enacted in 2017, streamlines the approval process for housing developments in areas with inadequate housing supply, so long as the developments meet certain criteria.
We have written elsewhere about the initial impacts of SB 35. SB 35 has successfully allowed some developers to obtain their entitlements quickly and easily through a streamlined process, but some local governments have resisted the use of SB 35. For example, the City of Los Altos denied an application that attempted to obtain streamlining through SB 35, prompting a nonprofit housing organization to sue. In Cupertino, the Planning Commission Chairman advocated in April 2019 for rescinding the SB 35 approval of the redevelopment of the Vallco Mall, which would include over 2,400 units of housing, while some residents have sued to block the development. As a result, it is crucial for developers to understand the details of SB 35 and make sure to meet all of its requirements. Any misstep may allow a recalcitrant local government to deny that a development project qualifies for SB 35 treatment and attempt to block it.
In November 2018, the state Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) released Guidelines to clarify the criteria for SB 35 and assist cities in determining whether projects qualify for streamlining.
Reprinted courtesy of Pillsbury attorneys Robert Howard, Alexander Walker and Matt Olhausen
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