Governor Newsom Addresses Housing Crisis

On January 10, Governor Newsom introduced his 2019-2020 budget proposal to the Legislature. Governor Newsom’s  budget proposes $2.3 billion for new housing, including $1.3 billion in incentives to cities and counties for permitting and planning new homes and supporting local homeless housing efforts, as well as $1 billion in loans and tax credits to subsidize  low- and moderate-income housing construction. The Governor has called for 3.5 million new housing units to be built over seven years. In his State of the State address, Governor Newsom offered state assistance to the 47 California cities that are out of compliance with state housing requirements.
To implement his goals in the short-term, the Governor has requested that the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) establish higher statewide housing targets for 2021 and incentives for local jurisdictions to reach their three-year Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) goals within two years. These incentives include $250 million to assist local jurisdictions in planning for their new goals, including grants to improve staffing and processes at cities, and $500 million for incentives as jurisdictions meet certain planning milestones.
In the long-term, HCD will work with the Office of Planning and Research (OPR) to draft an improved RHNA process by December 31, 2022. Beginning July 1, 2023, if a jurisdiction does not have a housing element and has not zoned and entitled for its updated housing goals, SB 1 Local Streets and Roads funding may be withheld. The Governor has also proposed to allocate $500 million for the expansion of the State’s Housing Tax Credit program, a portion of which (up to $200 million) may be used to target moderate-income housing construction.
Given the Governor’s emphasis on new housing in both the short-term and long-term, the use of CEQA streamlining, when applicable, forms an important piece in the Governor’s new housing puzzle. CEQA Guidelines Section 15183.3 and Appendix M provide a streamlined review process for infill projects that satisfy specified performance standards. When infill streamlining is used, the CEQA review can limit review of the topics at a project level if they have been addressed in a planning level decision or by uniformly applicable development policies. CEQA also offers a number of Categorical and Statutory Exemptions for agricultural housing, affordable housing, and residential infill projects; projects consistent with a Specific Plan EIR; and Transit Priority Projects.
If you are interested in exploring how CEQA streamlining might be used for your project, please contact Tom Holm , AICP in the Santa Ana office at (714) 648-0630, or Scott Friend , AICP in the Chico office at (530) 809-1328.

About ECORP Consulting, Inc.

ECORP Consulting, Inc. has assisted public and private land owners with environmental regulation compliance since 1987. Find out more at ECORP Consulting's mission is to consistently deliver high-quality environmental consulting services through outstanding science and timely, creative solutions for our clients, while providing an excellent work environment for our staff.
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