Government Code §§65400, 65582.1 and 65913.4
Added and amended by S.B. 35
Effective date: January 1, 2018

Streamlined approval criteria

Effective until January 1, 2026, a housing developer may avoid obtaining a conditional use permit when applying for a multifamily housing development when:

  • the development is on a site:
    • in a city that is partially within an urbanized area or in an unincorporated area that is wholly within an urbanized area;
    • where at least 75% of the perimeter adjoins parcels developed with urban uses;
    • zoned for residential or mixed use with at least two-thirds of the square footage of the proposed development designated for residential use;
  • the developer records a land use restriction for any subsidized units within the development applicable for a minimum of 55 years for rental units and 45 years for owned units;
  • the proposed development is in a location where the number of issued building permits is less than the location’s regional housing need by income category;
  • the proposed development is subject to a minimum percentage of below market rate housing due to the location;
  • the proposed development is consistent with local zoning and design standards;
  • the proposed development is not located in:
    • a coastal zone;
    • farmland designated for protection;
    • wetlands;
    • a very high fire hazard severity zone;
    • a hazardous waste site;
    • an earthquake fault zone;
    • a flood plain or floodway;
    • land identified for conservation, as habitat for protected species or under a conservation easement;
    • an area requiring demolition of housing subject to restricted rents for low- to moderate-income families or housing that has been occupied by tenants for ten years;
    • a site previously used for tenant housing that was demolished in the past ten years;
    • a site requiring the demolition of a historic structure in the local, state or national historic register;
  • the developer certifies either the development is a public work or, if not, that the construction workers employed will be paid the prevailing wage for the type of work and area — to be included in all employment contracts;
  • the proposed development does not involve a subdivision subject to the Subdivision Map Act or other subdivision law unless the development receives funding through a low-income housing tax credit or is subject to a requirement that the prevailing wages be paid and a skilled workforce be used; and
  • the proposed development is not on an existing parcel governed by the Mobile Home Residency Law.

Approval timelines and parking

When a city or county finds a development conflicts with local planning standards, the city or county is required to provide the developer documentation substantiating the conflict within:

  • 60 days of submission when the development contains 150 or fewer units; or
  • 90 days of submission when the development contains more than 150 units.

When a city or county fails to provide the above documentation, the development is deemed to have satisfied all planning standards.

Design reviews of a development may be conducted by the city’s or county’s planning commission in compliance with criteria for streamlined projects. Reviews are to be completed within:

  • 90 days of submission when the development contains 150 or fewer units; or
  • 180 days of submission when the development contains more than 150 units.

Approval of a development is valid for three years and remains valid as long as construction continues. Approval does not expire for projects that include public investment in housing affordability where 50% of the units are affordable to households making below 80% of the area’s median income.

A city or county may not impose parking standards on streamlined projects when:

  • the development is located within one-half mile of public transit or within a significant historic district;
  • on-street parking permits are required but not offered to occupants of the development; or
  • a car share vehicle is located within one block of the development.

When a development does not meet the above criteria, a city or county may only require up to one parking space per unit.

Annual reports

A city or county is required to use set standards, forms and definitions for the housing element portion of their annual report, which the city or county may review, adopt or amend as needed.

The annual report now needs to include:

  • the number of housing development applications received during the prior year;
  • the number of units included in all development applications during the prior year;
  • the number of units approved and disapproved in the prior year;
  • a list of sites rezoned to accommodate the city’s or county’s share of regional housing needs for each income level;
  • the number of net new rental and for-sale units that have been issued a completed entitlement, building permit or certificate of occupancy and the income category each unit satisfies; and
  • the number of applications submitted for streamlined processing, the number of developments approved for streamlined processing, the total number of building permits issued for these units and the total number of constructed rental and for-sale housing units by area median income category.

The Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) is required to post these annual reports on its website.

Editor’s note — This is one of several bills passed by the California legislature to address the state’s housing shortage and promote residential development.
Read the bill text.