On September 28, 2021, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law AB 1398 authored by Assemblymember Richard Bloom (D – Santa Monica). AB 1398 will work to incentivize timely compliance with the housing element, or state housing laws.
“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,” said Assemblymember Bloom.
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. These are all contributing factors to our current housing crisis.
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.” Assemblymember Bloom continued, “This bill provides the right incentives to do that critical planning.”
Supported by groups such as Western Center on Law & Poverty and the Inner City Law Center, AB 1398 will take effect on January 1, 2022.