California Could Fine Cities That Don’t Meet Housing Requirements

July 1, 2019
california palm trees
Photo: Unsplash/ Julian Howard

A new agreement between California’s executive and legislative branches would fine cities and counties that don't plan to accommodate housing requirements, and reward those that do, according to National Mortgage News

Jurisdictions that don't meet the state's residential planning requirements could face fines of between $10,000 and $600,000 per month, while those that do would be dubbed "prohousing" and get a leg up in competing for coveted infrastructure funding, according to new bill language released as part of the state's budget. The deal is a big step forward in Newsom's push to hold local governments accountable for building their way out of the housing shortage.

Under the new enforcement approach, cities wouldn't be required to actually build the housing needed—but they would be required to plan for it. Every jurisdiction has a state-mandated housing goal—a target most cities in the state are failing to meet, especially when it comes to affordable housing production. Those failures wouldn't open a city up to a fine. But cities would be fined if they don't submit a plan that allows for enough housing to be built, or if they impose zoning rules that restrict construction to the point where their building goals cannot be met.

The deal also provides significant funding to tackle the housing and homelessness crisis, including $275 million to help house the homeless in the state's largest cities, including San Jose, Oakland and San Francisco. And the measure would streamline the creation of supportive housing and navigation centers for the homeless.

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