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Two Housing Bills Sponsored by Santa Monica Lawmaker Approved by State Assembly
By Jorge Casuso
August 31, 2018 -- Two housing bills sponsored by Santa Monica Assemblyman Richard Bloom were approved by the State Assembly on Thursday.
One bill (AB 2797) addresses inconsistencies in the application of housing density bonuses on the coast; the other (AB 1771) reforms the process for determining and apportioning regional housing needs.
AB 2797 addresses an appellate court ruling that found that the Coastal Act supersedes Density Bonus Law and the Mello Act requiring developers to replace affordable units when they are demolished, Bloom's office said.
The decision upheld the City of Los Angeles' denial of a project that contained two low-income units on the basis that the increased density made it visually incompatible with the surrounding neighborhood.
“Density bonuses play a critical role in encouraging developers to build affordable housing,” Bloom said in a statement after the vote.
The ruling, Bloom said, “weakens our ability to build our way out of the current affordable housing shortage. AB 2797 corrects this erroneous interpretation of statute.”
Under the State Density Bonus Law, developers who include affordable units in their project can receive an increase in project density.
AB 1771 makes several changes to the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) process, including requiring the regional distribution to be more data-driven and equitable, Bloom's office said.
“The RHNA is the foundation for important local land use planning decisions," Bloom said. "It sets the goals that cities use to plan ahead and the metrics by which they are held accountable.
“By fixing the RHNA methodology and process, AB 1771 will have a considerable impact on other housing decisions further down the road.”
The State uses the regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) process to project the number of housing units a region needs to plan to accommodate over the next eight years.
"Unfortunately, the process is far less data-driven than envisioned and is heavily influenced by local politics," Bloom's office said.
"As a result, wealthier, job-rich areas that could accommodate more housing often have lower RHNA allocations."
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