AB 1398 Passes Assembly, Requires Cities to Rezone Housing Responsibly

On Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021, the California Legislature approved AB 1398 to incentivize timely compliance with the housing element law.

The bill was authored by Assemblymember Richard Bloom, who noted “The housing element planning process is a key building block in the state’s policies to foster the production of affordable housing and address homelessness. Unfortunately, there have been instances where cities deliberately adopt faulty housing elements to avoid building their fair share of housing.” 

Currently, jurisdictions that fail to adopt a housing element by the statutory deadline are required to adopt a revised housing element every four years, rather than every eight. This penalty for non-compliance with state housing deadlines has proven ineffective and has led to local agencies adopting deficient housing elements months after the deadline with no consequences. Some local agencies have adopted non-compliant housing elements by the deadline to avoid a penalty of having to revise the element in four years.

AB 1398 will ensure cities and counties are adequately re-zoning to meet their housing needs. Jurisdictions that fail to adopt a HCD-compliant housing element within 120 days of the statutory deadline will have one year to complete the required rezoning, instead of the current three years and 120 days.

“As the housing crisis grows in California, it is critical that every local government adopt a plan that meets the requirements of state law, that they do it on time, and that they carry out necessary rezones to make land available for the production of housing, particularly higher-density zoned land that can accommodate housing affordable to lower-income households. This bill sets the right incentives to do that critical planning.”

AB 1398 is headed to the Governor’s office for his signature.

Leah Voong 

The Actors' Gang

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