The Carpinteria City Council and Planning Commission will hold a special joint meeting today to hear an update on new state housing laws taking effect in 2023.
The two boards will meet in council chambers, 5775 Carpinteria Ave., starting at 5:30 p.m.
Continuing its efforts to address the statewide housing crisis, the state Legislature enacted a large volume of housing production laws in the 2022 session in a multi-pronged attempt to promote the development of new housing in general and increase the availability of affordable housing specifically, staff said in its report.
The entire housing legislation package creates new, complex requirements for local agencies responsible for permitting housing. Implementing these new housing laws is made even more complex for coastal cities like Carpinteria due to the need to implement them in a manner consistent with the California Coastal Act.
The new housing legislation focuses on the following issue areas:
– Streamlining approvals and incentivizing high-density development;
– Parking reform and other cost reductions;
– Accessory dwelling units and increased bedroom counts;
– Affordable housing development and housing equality.
Several bills were passed to promote high-density development.
One allows for ministerial, California Environmental Quality Act-exempt approval process for deed-restricted 100% lower income affordable housing on commercially-zoned lands, and also allows for such approvals for mixed-income housing along commercial corridors, as long as the projects meet specified affordability, labor, and environmental criteria.
The bill also requires that all projects seeking approval under its provisions ensure all construction workers earn prevailing wages and receive health benefits.
A second bill allows certain residential uses on commercially-zoned property (retail and office space) without requiring a rezoning, and allows project applicants to invoke the Housing Accountability Act to limit local discretion to deny or condition project approval.
However, it does not provide a ministerial approval pathway, and it requires applicants to commit to both prevailing wage and more costly “skilled and trained workforce” requirements for project labor.
The State Density Bonus Law allows developers to increase density, access concessions to reduce development costs, waive development standards and reduce parking in exchange for providing affordable housing. lt is amended nearly every year in an effort to unlock more housing production potential.
A new bill updates the definition of maximum allowable residential density for the purpose of determining the “base density” to which bonus density may be added. Specifically, it provides that if the density under the zoning ordinance is inconsistent with the density allowed under the land use element of the general plan or specific plan, the greater shall prevail. The law also dictates a method for determining the “base density” in terms of units in the many local jurisdictions where the general plan, specific plan or zoning does not provide dwelling unit per acre standards for density.
The bill also makes 100% lower income affordable housing projects that are located in a very low vehicle travel area in a designated county eligible for four incentives or concessions, unlimited density bonuses as well as an automatic height increase of up to three stories or 33 feet.
Regarding Accessory Dwelling Units (granny flats) and lncreased Bedroom Counts, one law contains clean-up language and clarifications to reduce permitting hurdles for ADU applicants, including requiring local agencies to approve or deny an ADU application within 60 days of its completeness determination.
Agencies that deny an ADU application must now provide a full set of comments to the applicant with a list of items that are deficient and a description of how the application can be remedied.
The law also clarifies that the construction of an ADU does not trigger a change in “Group R” occupancy of the residential building (thereby requiring stricter building code standards) unless an agency makes specific findings that the ADU would create an adverse impact on health and safety.
It also adds front setbacks to the list of objective development standards that local agencies are precluded from imposing if they would prevent construction of an ADU that is 800 square feet or smaller and adheres to 4 feet of rear and side yard setbacks and revised height limits.
Another bill increases the minimum height limits that local governments may impose on ADUs. It provides minimum height limits of 16 feet for detached ADUs on the same lot with an existing or proposed single-family or multifamily dwelling); 18 feet for detached ADUs located on a lot that is within a half-mile of a major transit stop, or detached ADUs on a lot with an existing or proposed multi-story, multifamily dwelling; or 25 feet or base zone height, whatever is lower, for attached ADUs.
The law introduces the potential for two-story ADUs if certain conditions are met, but ensures local agencies are not required to permit three-story ADUs. Lastly, it clarifies that two detached ADUs may be constructed and qualify for building permit ministerial review on lots with proposed multifamily dwellings. This change will allow developers to include two detached ADUs in their design and planning processes for new multifamily residential projects.
A third law restricts public hearings for projects that reconfigure existing space to add two or fewer bedrooms to improve utilization of existing space in dwelling units. This bill does not impact parking requirements and allows an increase in density within existing properties with the goal to increase the housing stock and bring down the cost of housing.
As for Affordable Housing Development and Housing Equality, one bill requires
local jurisdictions to report their progress towards building Extremely Low lncome units. With the ability to accurately track how many such units are being developed, “California can better allocate funds and develop effective policy for homeless and housing-insecure residents,” staff said.
Another bill strengthens the Housing Element Law to ensure that zones identified for shelters and other interim housing are suitable and available. The bill also requires jurisdictions to demonstrate sufficient capacity on the sites to meet the identified need for interim housing for those experiencing homelessness.