It PAY$ to be pro-housing. Read on, see which counties are not yet in on the housing inventory effort.

Awards to 18 pro-housing jurisdictions of $33.2 million from the Prohousing Incentive Pilot (PIP) Program have been announced by the California Business, Consumer Services, and Housing (BCSH) Agency and the Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD).

The HCD awards the Prohousing Designation to cities and counties that demonstrate a commitment to tackling California’s housing challenges by enacting pro-housing policies such as:

  • streamlining multi-family housing development;
  • loosening zoning restrictions; and
  • creating low-income housing in places historically excluding it.

The PIP Program awardees are:

The cities of:

  • El Cerrito — $620,000
  • Emeryville — $575,000
  • Fresno — $2,064,890
  • Los Angeles — $4,900,000
  • Needles — $445,000
  • Oakland — $2,390,000
  • Rancho Cordova — $960,000
  • Redwood City — $890,000
  • Riverside — $2,440,000
  • Roseville — $1,610,000
  • Sacramento — $2,500,000
  • Salinas — $1,650,000
  • San Diego — $5,000,000
  • Stockton — $2,370,000
  • Ukiah — $455,000
  • West Sacramento — $970,000

The counties of:

  • San Diego — $2,400,000
  • Yuba — $960,000

How the communities will use the awards

PIP awardees will use the funds for a variety of activities, including:

  • promoting housing construction near transit;
  • improving accessibility for tenants and owners in existing housing;
  • creating local housing trust funds;
  • preserving low-income housing;
  • down payment assistance programs;
  • creating supportive housing for at-risk groups such as homeless individuals;
  • developing strategies to prevent displacement;
  • promoting senior living opportunities; and
  • financing low-income housing construction.

Awarding areas delivered more inclusive zoning and permitting

As this year’s winners exemplify, areas which increase their inventory of multi-family housing options by loosening outdated zoning restrictions win grant funding, while also avoiding compliance lawsuits from state regulators.

Across California, historical zoning restrictions have resulted in:

  • reduced construction;
  • failure to meet high demand for housing;
  • inflated prices of new and resale homes;
  • an unstable housing market as home prices rise faster than incomes; and
  • stunted homeownership and home sales volume.

Zoning restrictions impact California’s:

  • land use regulations;
  • parking restrictions;
  • lot sizes;
  • height restrictions; and
  • permitting costs and times.

California severely lacks priced right multi-family residences. However, strict zoning laws prevent builders from meeting this voracious demand. Not-in-my-backyard (NIMBY) advocates put pressure on their local councils and boards to maintain the status quo by barring housing to outsiders.

To sideline the NIMBYs, California’s legislature has taken action to loosen outdated local zoning regulations. Some communities look for methods to work around the state preemption of local zoning and parceling rules rather than attempt to meet the state housing policy.

Real estate licensees can also combat the NIMBY strongholds in their communities. They need to attend local council meetings to push for expansion of housing inventory. There, they enter the discussion about the need for zoning changes and the permitting process with other industry trades, such as builders.

By getting involved, real estate licensees help reinvigorate the housing market in California’s most desirable areas and help drive more residential construction to cover the current shortfall of some 1.4 million housing units.

Was your area of practice among the 18 jurisdictions awarded with the Prohousing Designation? If not, let us know why not in the comments below.

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