Home News High-rise apartments in Bay Area suburbs? ‘Builder’s remedy’ could make it a possibility

High-rise apartments in Bay Area suburbs? ‘Builder’s remedy’ could make it a possibility

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This is NIMBY’s worst nightmare. High rise apartments are being built in the suburbs and local officials are unable to stop the construction.

This scenario could soon become a possibility for Bay Area cities large and small if they can’t convince states that they are doing enough to solve the deepening housing crisis.

It’s all thanks to a little-used section of the state’s housing code known as the “builder’s remedy.” Uncertainties remain, but a 30-year-old provision allowed developers to take virtually any size project wherever they wanted, as long as part of the building included affordable units. I can do it.

The Builders Relief applies only to Bay Area cities that do not have state approval to meet future homebuilding goals, which are updated every eight years.Penalties won’t apply until early next year, but more jurisdictions will emerge It is unlikely that the plan will come in time.

Housing experts and advocates say this means a surge in proposals could be on the horizon. Especially in wealthier neighborhoods where it’s getting harder to build more densely packed homes, developers stand to see higher returns if they can.

“If you don’t tell developers where they can build multifamily homes, the state says they don’t have to follow your rules,” said Daniel Golub, a San Francisco real estate attorney, in several recent reports. Month Builder’s Remedy.

It’s already started in Southern California — with more than 100 cities lagging behind last year’s housing plans, developers have bombed a handful of wealthy enclaves with builders’ improvement proposals in recent months. includes more than a dozen high-rise projects in Santa Monica and a 2,300-unit oceanfront complex in Redondo Beach.

In the Bay Area, cities must have their housing plans certified by January 31st to avoid a similar outcome. So far, though, he’s only had two approvals: Alameda and Emeryville. But the growing interest in builder remedies is increasing the pressure to meet looming deadlines.

Despite the provision’s existence since 1990, a large part of the reason why developers now see it as a viable option is that new state laws and policies are disrupting the housing planning process. It looks like you added it.

Homebuilding targets set by the state have doubled or tripled in many cities. Overall, the Bay Area will approve over 441,000 units across all income levels over the next decade, a 15% increase in total housing in the region.

In the now-expiring eight-year cycle, the Bay Area only allowed about 190,000 units, according to Reuters. state housing dataOf that amount, only 44,000 are for low- or middle-income earners, well below half of the combined targets for those income levels.

This time, state officials, including Gov. Gavin Newsom, More than just a rubber stamp on the city’s housing plans, And it is meant to hold jurisdictions accountable for actually achieving the new goals. States lose their permitting powers for cities to threaten fines, withhold affordable housing funds, and evade housing liability.

Paul Campos, senior vice president of the Bay Area Building Industry Association, said the regulatory requirement that 20% of units be affordable in Southern California despite being inundated with proposals for builder remedies. makes it harder for projects to really “pencil out”. – Talk about “making enough profit to build”.

Due in part to its financial realities, Campos said the Bay Area is unlikely to see many significantly larger projects than local zoning laws already allow. Instead, he sees the provision as a way to “relax or eliminate some tough local regulations.”For example, developers Add some stories to your apartment project Offsetting urban development costs.

Campos and other experts say the builder bailout is most effective in the types of cities where rents are high and developers struggle to complete large projects.

Palo Alto has roughly the same population and average rent levels as Santa Monica. could fit the bill.

“(Santa Monica) is facing a very likely situation that we will be facing in three months,” said Palo Alto Mayor Pat Bart.

Bart said Palo Alto is “hurrying” to finalize plans for where to build new homes, but he doesn’t expect to meet the state’s Jan. 31 deadline. It’s unclear what the upmarket suburb of Silicon Valley, which is in the United States, will do when it’s flooded with builder bailout applications. Burt expects a final court ruling on the Southern California proposals to determine whether Palo Alto should approve them.

Sonja Trauss, founder of San Francisco-based housing advocacy group YIMBY Law, has launched an online workshop to take advantage of builder remedies, but says the scheme has not been legally tested. Admitted. Potential Discerning point These include how the state’s stringent environmental laws apply and whether the city can reject proposals by essentially self-certifying housing plans.

Another question is whether the builder’s redress proposal is valid if a non-compliant city obtains housing planning certification after the planning and permitting process for the project has already begun. The State Housing Authority said: such projects must pass.

Still, Trauss said cities planning to challenge the provision should not expect an easy victory.

“They might go to court and they could win, but it’s definitely going to be a fight,” she said.

For some local officials, the clashes over the builder’s bailout are just the latest result that what they say is punitive. State Laws and Policies It threatens to usurp local control and undermine the character of the city. The specter of near-unlimited development creates a sense of urgency to push back.

“It’s the legislature’s responsibility to ensure that they don’t step in and witness dramatic excesses,” Bart said.

State Senator Scott Weiner, a San Francisco Democrat and one of the leading supporters of the recent legislation that paved the way for the builder’s bailout, said he had no such intentions.

“It’s time to set standards that are actually enforceable,” says Wiener. “Which is more important, managing the area or ensuring there is enough housing for everyone?”

For now, the builder’s bailout appears to be serving its primary purpose by persuading cities to get their housing plans in order sooner or later.

“The goal is to avoid having to invoke the builder’s bailout,” he said.

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