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Governor signs bill to expedite affordable housing projects in California


SACRAMENTO -- Legislation aimed to help speed up development of affordable housing across California was signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday, in an effort to address the state's housing crisis.

Senate Bill 406, authored by Senator Dave Cortese, D-San Jose, was signed nearly a month after it was approved by the California State Assembly and state senate.

According to Cortese's office, SB 406 aims to cut "repetitive" reviews under the California Environmental Quality Act or CEQA, while keeping the state's main environmental law intact.

"Our state and regional housing crisis is complicated, but we continue to work together to find ways to ramp up housing production, particularly affordable housing for people in need," Cortese said in a statement. "SB 406 will speed up housing by cutting bureaucratic red tape while keeping environmental protections intact."

To address California's unprecedented housing crisis, local governments have taken steps to offer financial aid for developing affordable housing.

However, according to Cortese's office, when a local agency helps fund an affordable housing project, this financial aid can trigger an evaluation under CEQA, in addition to the separate and independent CEQA review conducted on the project itself.

"Implementing CEQA this way is ineffective, repetitive, and ultimately causes delays and increased expenses for urgently needed affordable housing," the senator's office said.

In the Bay Area, Rohnert Park, Santa Cruz, South San Francisco, Santa Rosa, Sonoma County and the town of Windsor have been designated "pro-housing" communities for reducing barriers to building more housing, making these cities eligible for funding incentives and additional resources through a state grant program.

California's total of "pro-housing" communities, which are intended to address the state's severe housing shortage, has reached 30, according to Newsom's office.

The state's population is expected to grow by 10 million by 2050, and the deficit will only worsen without more housing, experts have said.

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