The Housing Accountability Act (HAA), Government Code section 65589.5, establishes limitations to a local government’s ability to deny, reduce the density of, or make infeasible housing development projects, emergency shelters, or farmworker housing that are consistent with objective local development standards and contribute to meeting housing need. The Legislature first enacted the HAA in 1982 and recently amended the HAA to expand and strengthen its provisions as part of the overall recognition of the critically low volumes of housing in California. In amending the HAA, the Legislature made repeated findings that the lack of housing and the lack of affordable housing, is a critical problem that threatens the economic, environmental, and social quality of life in California. More information on the HAA can be found here.
SB 330 limited the ability of cities and counties to reduce the permitted density on property designated for residential uses absent a concurrent density increase on other property, prohibited cities from enforcing caps on housing development, streamlined the review of certain entitlements for housing projects, allowed for vesting of city and county land use policies and fees for housing projects, limited the number of hearings concerning certain housing projects, and required replacement of certain “protected units.” The text of SB 330 (Government Code Section 65589.5) can be found here.
The Density Bonus Law (found in California Government Code Sections 65915 – 65918) provides developers with tools to encourage the development of affordable and senior housing, including up to a 50% increase in project densities for most projects, depending on the amount of affordable housing provided. The Density Bonus is a state mandate. A developer who meets the requirements of the state law is entitled to receive the density bonus and other benefits as a matter of right. As with any State mandate, some local governments will resist complying with the State requirement. But many local governments favor the density bonus as a helpful tool to encourage continued diversity of housing, income levels and lifestyles within their communities.