California must build more residences to address its housing shortage. One solution, AB 1633 by Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), is on its way to the Governor, after final legislative approval today. The bill strengthens the state’s Housing Accountability Act (HAA) so that neighbors and local jurisdictions can no longer abuse the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to unnecessarily delay or block housing projects, if all legal requirements have been met.
“We’re in a housing crisis, and we can no longer afford to let opponents of a development abuse CEQA to unnecessarily prolong the approval process that prevent projects from moving forward. That only keeps the availability of housing units low and prices high,” said Ting.
AB 1633 promotes climate-friendly infill housing in the most location-efficient areas, and opponents would no longer be allowed to require “more study,” once legally-sufficient environmental review has been conducted.
"AB 1633 is narrowly targeted at those jurisdictions and actions that abuse CEQA to delay housing project approvals indefinitely without any evidence that further environmental study is needed. The bill will ensure that CEQA's purpose and intent are honored - to protect human health and the environment - and that it is not used in bad faith as a political weapon to slow or kill climate-friendly and location-efficient urban infill housing development. We are grateful to Assemblymember Ting for his strong leadership and authorship of this measure," said Michael Lane, State Policy Director of SPUR.
Ting doesn’t have to look far from his district to see why AB 1633 is necessary. In 2021, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors overturned the Planning Commission’s approval of a 500-unit project located at 469 Stevenson Street, a site near transit identified as a priority for development under the region’s climate plan. Housing supporters claim the city acted in bad faith under the guise of needing “further environmental study,” providing no clear direction on how to bring the plans into compliance. The state intervened earlier this year to help move the still pending project forward.
The Governor has until October 14, 2023 to act. He recently signed AB 1307 by Assemblymember Buffy Wicks (D-Oakland), which removes CEQA barriers to student housing at universities.