California Budget Agreement Incorporates Both Subsidies and By Right Development Plan

The California legislature’s Budget Conference Committee vetted Governor Jerry Brown’s budget on June 9th, to be followed by a formal vote by the state Senate and Assembly in the near future. Democrats in the Assembly have been arguing for a boost in housing subsidies, while Brown has been arguing instead for passage of a by right development policy (Streamlining Affordable Housing Approvals) which would ease the zoning approval process for affordable housing developers.

Now it seems that both groups will get their wish. The budget agreement Thursday night reportedly included $400M towards low-income housing subsidies with the added provision that this money will only come to fruition if legislators pass Brown’s bill later in the year. The $400M dangling carrot makes the bill’s passage very likely.

In order to qualify under the bill, developments in transit priority areas would need to set-aside 10% of units for low-income residents or 5% for very low-income residents. In all other areas, developers would need to set-aside 20% of units for low-income residents (up to 80% of AMI). In order to be considered a “by right” development, the project would also need to be consistent with local zoning and the area’s local plan, built on a designated housing site, maintain affordability for 30 years, and meet an infill requirement.