Newsom Signs AB 1398 Into Law – Deadlines for Updating Housing Element Clarified

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.

Melissa Kaufler

The Actors' Gang

1 Comment

  1. Please note that this law is a tool to get cities to submit a viable housing element by the stated deadline. This year’s deadline is Oct. 15, 2021, but the state has given all cities a 120 day grace period, so the actual deadline is around Feb. 15, 2022.

    The current housing element and site inventory have a number of structural problems and as written currently, in my opinion, do not comply with state requirements.

    Even the City Council and the Planning Commission have publicly stated that changing R1 to allow 4 housing units on each single-family lot is NOT CONNECTED TO AFFORDABILITY. The state itself does not expect affordable housing to be built on any property under half an acre. With the current land prices only a builder or developer who does not care about making a reasonable profit or any profit could build affordable units in the residential neighborhoods. In other words, adding housing density to R1/single-family will not yield nor is it expected to yield affordable housing.

    There is no mad rush to meet the Oct. 15, 2021 deadline. Speaking as a member of Culver City Neighbors United, we ask that the City Council slow down and create a realistic housing element that will actually meet the state requirements and RHNA needs. There is plenty of time to do this right. The passage of this bill does not change that.

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