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CalMatters: New CA Housing Laws Aimed To Streamline Building Process Take Effect In 2024

Source: CalMatters

If California wants to build its way out of its long term housing shortage, plenty of things stand in its way in 2024: high interest rates, sluggish local approval processes and a persistent shortage of skilled construction workers, among others.

But a slew of housing bills from the 2023 legislative session going into effect on Jan. 1 promise to ease or eliminate some of the other burdens.

... a third, AB 1633, by San Francisco Democratic Assemblymember Phil Ting will force cities to either approve or deny a project’s environmental review within a set time limit.

“This just points out the reason we need to continue to have this fight at the state level,” said Ting in a recent webinar touting the new policy. “We know we have these two million homes to get built and they’re not getting built fast enough…Local governments just aren’t getting the job done.”

Ting has also carved out a reputation as a champion of accessory dwelling units. Sometimes called in-law units or granny flats, these pint-sized add ons have become an increasingly popular way for local governments to meet their state-set housing production goals. They’ve also come to make up a significant share of California’s new housing stock in recent years. 

That’s largely thanks to a suite of recent state laws that make it increasingly difficult for local governments to say no to these developments or to tack on costly requirements. Starting in 2024, a new bill by Ting may help to reshape the existing ADU market. AB 1033 will let homeowners spin off their ADUs as separate for-sale condos, so long as local governments opt in. 

That’s a big “if,” but the condoization law has many backyard cottage builders optimistic about the future, even at a time when California’s residential construction industry appears to be slowing.