Amended in Senate June 15, 2016

Amended in Assembly April 25, 2016

California Legislature—2015–16 Regular Session

Assembly BillNo. 2584


Introduced by Assembly Member Daly

(Coauthors: Assembly Members Atkins,begin insert Cristinaend insertbegin insert Garcia,end insert Low, and Santiago)

February 19, 2016


An act to amend Section 65589.5 of the Government Code, relating to housing.

LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL’S DIGEST

AB 2584, as amended, Daly. Land use: housing development.

The Housing Accountability Act, among other things, prohibits a local agency from disapproving a housing development project for very low, low-, or moderate-income households or an emergency shelter unless the local agency makes specified written findings. The act authorizes an applicant or person who would be eligible to apply for residency in the development or emergency shelter to bring an action to enforce the act.

This bill would, in addition, authorize a housing organization, as defined, to bring an action to enforce the act.

Vote: majority. Appropriation: no. Fiscal committee: no. State-mandated local program: no.

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:

P2    1

SECTION 1.  

Section 65589.5 of the Government Code is
2amended to read:

3

65589.5.  

(a) The Legislature finds and declares all of the
4following:

5(1) The lack of housing, including emergency shelters, is a
6critical problem that threatens the economic, environmental, and
7social quality of life in California.

8(2) California housing has become the most expensive in the
9nation. The excessive cost of the state’s housing supply is partially
10caused by activities and policies of many local governments that
11limit the approval of housing, increase the cost of land for housing,
12and require that high fees and exactions be paid by producers of
13housing.

14(3) Among the consequences of those actions are discrimination
15against low-income and minority households, lack of housing to
16support employment growth, imbalance in jobs and housing,
17reduced mobility, urban sprawl, excessive commuting, and air
18quality deterioration.

19(4) Many local governments do not give adequate attention to
20the economic, environmental, and social costs of decisions that
21result in disapproval of housing projects, reduction in density of
22housing projects, and excessive standards for housing projects.

23(b) It is the policy of the state that a local government not reject
24or make infeasible housing developments, including emergency
25shelters, that contribute to meeting the need determined pursuant
26to this article without a thorough analysis of the economic, social,
27and environmental effects of the action and without complying
28with subdivision (d).

29(c) The Legislature also recognizes that premature and
30unnecessary development of agricultural lands for urban uses
31continues to have adverse effects on the availability of those lands
32for food and fiber production and on the economy of the state.
33Furthermore, it is the policy of the state that development should
34be guided away from prime agricultural lands; therefore, in
35implementing this section, local jurisdictions should encourage,
36to the maximum extent practicable, in filling existing urban areas.

37(d) A local agency shall not disapprove a housing development
38project, including farmworker housing as defined in subdivision
P3    1(h) of Section 50199.7 of the Health and Safety Code, for very
2low, low-, or moderate-income households, or an emergency
3shelter, or condition approval in a manner that renders the project
4infeasible for development for the use of very low, low-, or
5moderate-income households, or an emergency shelter, including
6through the use of design review standards, unless it makes written
7findings, based upon substantial evidence in the record, as to one
8of the following:

9(1) The jurisdiction has adopted a housing element pursuant to
10this article that has been revised in accordance with Section 65588,
11is in substantial compliance with this article, and the jurisdiction
12has met or exceeded its share of the regional housing need
13allocation pursuant to Section 65584 for the planning period for
14the income category proposed for the housing development project,
15provided that any disapproval or conditional approval shall not be
16based on any of the reasons prohibited by Section 65008. If the
17housing development project includes a mix of income categories,
18and the jurisdiction has not met or exceeded its share of the regional
19housing need for one or more of those categories, then this
20paragraph shall not be used to disapprove or conditionally approve
21the project. The share of the regional housing need met by the
22jurisdiction shall be calculated consistently with the forms and
23definitions that may be adopted by the Department of Housing and
24Community Development pursuant to Section 65400. In the case
25of an emergency shelter, the jurisdiction shall have met or exceeded
26the need for emergency shelter, as identified pursuant to paragraph
27(7) of subdivision (a) of Section 65583. Any disapproval or
28conditional approval pursuant to this paragraph shall be in
29accordance with applicable law, rule, or standards.

30(2) The development project or emergency shelter as proposed
31would have a specific, adverse impact upon the public health or
32safety, and there is no feasible method to satisfactorily mitigate or
33avoid the specific adverse impact without rendering the
34development unaffordable to low- and moderate-income
35households or rendering the development of the emergency shelter
36financially infeasible. As used in this paragraph, a “specific,
37adverse impact” means a significant, quantifiable, direct, and
38unavoidable impact, based on objective, identified written public
39health or safety standards, policies, or conditions as they existed
40on the date the application was deemed complete. Inconsistency
P4    1with the zoning ordinance or general plan land use designation
2shall not constitute a specific, adverse impact upon the public
3health or safety.

4(3) The denial of the project or imposition of conditions is
5required in order to comply with specific state or federal law, and
6there is no feasible method to comply without rendering the
7development unaffordable to low- and moderate-income
8households or rendering the development of the emergency shelter
9financially infeasible.

10(4) The development project or emergency shelter is proposed
11on land zoned for agriculture or resource preservation that is
12surrounded on at least two sides by land being used for agricultural
13or resource preservation purposes, or which does not have adequate
14water or wastewater facilities to serve the project.

15(5) The development project or emergency shelter is inconsistent
16with both the jurisdiction’s zoning ordinance and general plan land
17use designation as specified in any element of the general plan as
18it existed on the date the application was deemed complete, and
19the jurisdiction has adopted a revised housing element in
20accordance with Section 65588 that is in substantial compliance
21with this article.

22(A) This paragraph cannot be utilized to disapprove or
23conditionally approve a housing development project if the
24development project is proposed on a site that is identified as
25suitable or available for very low, low-, or moderate-income
26households in the jurisdiction’s housing element, and consistent
27with the density specified in the housing element, even though it
28is inconsistent with both the jurisdiction’s zoning ordinance and
29general plan land use designation.

30(B) If the local agency has failed to identify in the inventory of
31land in its housing element sites that can be developed for housing
32within the planning period and are sufficient to provide for the
33jurisdiction’s share of the regional housing need for all income
34levels pursuant to Section 65584, then this paragraph shall not be
35utilized to disapprove or conditionally approve a housing
36development project proposed for a site designated in any element
37of the general plan for residential uses or designated in any element
38of the general plan for commercial uses if residential uses are
39permitted or conditionally permitted within commercial
40designations. In any action in court, the burden of proof shall be
P5    1on the local agency to show that its housing element does identify
2adequate sites with appropriate zoning and development standards
3and with services and facilities to accommodate the local agency’s
4share of the regional housing need for the very low and low-income
5categories.

6(C) If the local agency has failed to identify a zone or zones
7where emergency shelters are allowed as a permitted use without
8a conditional use or other discretionary permit, has failed to
9demonstrate that the identified zone or zones include sufficient
10capacity to accommodate the need for emergency shelter identified
11in paragraph (7) of subdivision (a) of Section 65583, or has failed
12to demonstrate that the identified zone or zones can accommodate
13at least one emergency shelter, as required by paragraph (4) of
14subdivision (a) of Section 65583, then this paragraph shall not be
15utilized to disapprove or conditionally approve an emergency
16shelter proposed for a site designated in any element of the general
17plan for industrial, commercial, or multifamily residential uses. In
18any action in court, the burden of proof shall be on the local agency
19to show that its housing element does satisfy the requirements of
20paragraph (4) of subdivision (a) of Section 65583.

21(e) Nothing in this section shall be construed to relieve the local
22agency from complying with the congestion management program
23required by Chapter 2.6 (commencing with Section 65088) of
24Division 1 of Title 7 or the California Coastal Act of 1976
25(Division 20 (commencing with Section 30000) of the Public
26Resources Code). Neither shall anything in this section be
27construed to relieve the local agency from making one or more of
28the findings required pursuant to Section 21081 of the Public
29Resources Code or otherwise complying with the California
30Environmental Quality Act (Division 13 (commencing with Section
3121000) of the Public Resources Code).

32(f) (1) Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit a
33local agency from requiring the development project to comply
34with objective, quantifiable, written development standards,
35conditions, and policies appropriate to, and consistent with, meeting
36the jurisdiction’s share of the regional housing need pursuant to
37Section 65584. However, the development standards, conditions,
38and policies shall be applied to facilitate and accommodate
39development at the density permitted on the site and proposed by
40the development.

P6    1(2) Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit a local
2agency from requiring an emergency shelter project to comply
3with objective, quantifiable, written development standards,
4conditions, and policies that are consistent with paragraph (4) of
5subdivision (a) of Section 65583 and appropriate to, and consistent
6with, meeting the jurisdiction’s need for emergency shelter, as
7identified pursuant to paragraph (7) of subdivision (a) of Section
865583. However, the development standards, conditions, and
9policies shall be applied by the local agency to facilitate and
10accommodate the development of the emergency shelter project.

11(3) This section does not prohibit a local agency from imposing
12fees and other exactions otherwise authorized by law that are
13essential to provide necessary public services and facilities to the
14development project or emergency shelter.

15(g) This section shall be applicable to charter cities because the
16Legislature finds that the lack of housing, including emergency
17shelter, is a critical statewide problem.

18(h) The following definitions apply for the purposes of this
19section:

20(1) “Feasible” means capable of being accomplished in a
21successful manner within a reasonable period of time, taking into
22account economic, environmental, social, and technological factors.

23(2) “Housing development project” means a use consisting of
24any of the following:

25(A) Residential units only.

26(B) Mixed-use developments consisting of residential and
27nonresidential uses in which nonresidential uses are limited to
28neighborhood commercial uses and to the first floor of buildings
29that are two or more stories. As used in this paragraph,
30“neighborhood commercial” means small-scale general or specialty
31stores that furnish goods and services primarily to residents of the
32neighborhood.

33(C) Transitional housing or supportive housing.

34(3) “Housing for very low, low-, or moderate-income
35households” means that either (A) at least 20 percent of the total
36units shall be sold or rented to lower income households, as defined
37in Section 50079.5 of the Health and Safety Code, or (B) 100
38percent of the units shall be sold or rented to persons and families
39of moderate income as defined in Section 50093 of the Health and
40Safety Code, or persons and families of middle income, as defined
P7    1in Section 65008 of this code. Housing units targeted for lower
2income households shall be made available at a monthly housing
3cost that does not exceed 30 percent of 60 percent of area median
4income with adjustments for household size made in accordance
5with the adjustment factors on which the lower income eligibility
6limits are based. Housing units targeted for persons and families
7of moderate income shall be made available at a monthly housing
8cost that does not exceed 30 percent of 100 percent of area median
9income with adjustments for household size made in accordance
10with the adjustment factors on which the moderate-income
11 eligibility limits are based.

12(4) “Area median income” means area median income as
13periodically established by the Department of Housing and
14Community Development pursuant to Section 50093 of the Health
15and Safety Code. The developer shall provide sufficient legal
16commitments to ensure continued availability of units for very low
17or low-income households in accordance with the provisions of
18this subdivision for 30 years.

19(5) “Disapprove the development project” includes any instance
20in which a local agency does either of the following:

21(A) Votes on a proposed housing development project
22application and the application is disapproved.

23(B) Fails to comply with the time periods specified in
24subdivision (a) of Section 65950. An extension of time pursuant
25to Article 5 (commencing with Section 65950) shall be deemed to
26be an extension of time pursuant to this paragraph.

27(i) If any city, county, or city and county denies approval or
28imposes restrictions, including design changes, a reduction of
29allowable densities or the percentage of a lot that may be occupied
30by a building or structure under the applicable planning and zoning
31in force at the time the application is deemed complete pursuant
32to Section 65943, that have a substantial adverse effect on the
33viability or affordability of a housing development for very low,
34low-, or moderate-income households, and the denial of the
35development or the imposition of restrictions on the development
36is the subject of a court action which challenges the denial, then
37the burden of proof shall be on the local legislative body to show
38that its decision is consistent with the findings as described in
39subdivision (d) and that the findings are supported by substantial
40evidence in the record.

P8    1(j) When a proposed housing development project complies
2with applicable, objective general plan and zoning standards and
3 criteria, including design review standards, in effect at the time
4that the housing development project’s application is determined
5to be complete, but the local agency proposes to disapprove the
6project or to approve it upon the condition that the project be
7developed at a lower density, the local agency shall base its
8decision regarding the proposed housing development project upon
9written findings supported by substantial evidence on the record
10that both of the following conditions exist:

11(1) The housing development project would have a specific,
12adverse impact upon the public health or safety unless the project
13is disapproved or approved upon the condition that the project be
14developed at a lower density. As used in this paragraph, a “specific,
15adverse impact” means a significant, quantifiable, direct, and
16unavoidable impact, based on objective, identified written public
17health or safety standards, policies, or conditions as they existed
18on the date the application was deemed complete.

19(2) There is no feasible method to satisfactorily mitigate or
20avoid the adverse impact identified pursuant to paragraph (1), other
21than the disapproval of the housing development project or the
22approval of the project upon the condition that it be developed at
23a lower density.

24(k) (1) The applicant, a person who would be eligible to apply
25for residency in the development or emergency shelter, or a housing
26organization may bring an action to enforce this section. If, in any
27action brought to enforce this section, a court finds that the local
28agency disapproved a project or conditioned its approval in a
29manner rendering it infeasible for the development of an emergency
30shelter, or housing for very low, low-, or moderate-income
31households, including farmworker housing, without making the
32findings required by this section or without making sufficient
33findings supported by substantial evidence, the court shall issue
34an order or judgment compelling compliance with this section
35within 60 days, including, but not limited to, an order that the local
36agency take action on the development project or emergency
37shelter. The court shall retain jurisdiction to ensure that its order
38or judgment is carried out and shall award reasonable attorney’s
39fees and costs of suit to the plaintiff or petitioner who proposed
40the housing development or emergency shelter, except under
P9    1extraordinary circumstances in which the court finds that awarding
2fees would not further the purposes of this section. If the court
3determines that its order or judgment has not been carried out
4within 60 days, the court may issue further orders as provided by
5law to ensure that the purposes and policies of this section are
6fulfilled, including, but not limited to, an order to vacate the
7decision of the local agency, in which case the application for the
8project, as constituted at the time the local agency took the initial
9action determined to be in violation of this section, along with any
10standard conditions determined by the court to be generally
11imposed by the local agency on similar projects, shall be deemed
12approved unless the applicant consents to a different decision or
13action by the local agency.

14(2) For purposes of this subdivision, “housing organization”
15means a trade or industry group whose local members are primarily
16engaged in the construction or management ofbegin delete affordableend delete housing
17units or a nonprofit organization whose mission includes providing
18or advocating for increased access tobegin delete affordableend delete housing for
19low-income households.

20(l) If the court finds that the local agency (1) acted in bad faith
21when it disapproved or conditionally approved the housing
22development or emergency shelter in violation of this section and
23 (2) failed to carry out the court’s order or judgment within 60 days
24as described in subdivision (k), the court, in addition to any other
25remedies provided by this section, may impose fines upon the local
26agency that the local agency shall be required to deposit into a
27housing trust fund. Fines shall not be paid from funds that are
28already dedicated for affordable housing, including, but not limited
29to, redevelopment or low- and moderate-income housing funds
30and federal HOME and CDBG funds. The local agency shall
31commit the money in the trust fund within five years for the sole
32purpose of financing newly constructed housing units affordable
33to extremely low, very low, or low-income households. For
34purposes of this section, “bad faith” shall mean an action that is
35frivolous or otherwise entirely without merit.

36(m) Any action brought to enforce the provisions of this section
37shall be brought pursuant to Section 1094.5 of the Code of Civil
38Procedure, and the local agency shall prepare and certify the record
39of proceedings in accordance with subdivision (c) of Section 1094.6
40of the Code of Civil Procedure no later than 30 days after the
P10   1petition is served, provided that the cost of preparation of the record
2shall be borne by the local agency. Upon entry of the trial court’s
3order, a party shall, in order to obtain appellate review of the order,
4file a petition within 20 days after service upon it of a written
5notice of the entry of the order, or within such further time not
6exceeding an additional 20 days as the trial court may for good
7cause allow. If the local agency appeals the judgment of the trial
8court, the local agency shall post a bond, in an amount to be
9determined by the court, to the benefit of the plaintiff if the plaintiff
10is the project applicant.

11(n) In any action, the record of the proceedings before the local
12agency shall be filed as expeditiously as possible and,
13notwithstanding Section 1094.6 of the Code of Civil Procedure or
14 subdivision (m) of this section, all or part of the record may be
15prepared (1) by the petitioner with the petition or petitioner’s points
16and authorities, (2) by the respondent with respondent’s points and
17authorities, (3) after payment of costs by the petitioner, or (4) as
18otherwise directed by the court. If the expense of preparing the
19record has been borne by the petitioner and the petitioner is the
20prevailing party, the expense shall be taxable as costs.

21(o) This section shall be known, and may be cited, as the
22Housing Accountability Act.



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