An example of a modern duplex home. Courtesy of Lennar

Two bills authored by state Senate President Toni Atkins that are designed to encourage infill housing development in California advanced in the Legislature this week.

Senate Bill 1120, which would make it easier to build duplexes and subdivide large single-family lots for two duplex homes, passed the Governance and Finance Committee on Thursday.

“SB 1120 is a good way to help meet California’s affordable housing goals while respecting local flexibility,” Atkins said. “SB 1120 makes small-scale infill development more achievable, and it helps build equity for individual homeowners, not large-scale corporations.”

Atkins cited projections that the law would permit as many as 800,000 new housing units across the state.

The second piece of legislation, Senate Bill 995, streamlines the complicated review process under the California Environmental Quality Act to make it easier to build new housing. It passed the Senate Environmental Quality Committee on Friday.

“Legislation that allowed large projects to use streamlined paperwork and expedited legal challenges under CEQA—a process that has already generated $2 billion in investment and thousands of new housing units and good-paying jobs—is set to expire this year,” Atkins said. “SB 995 not only extends the life of that law, SB 995 also gives new life to smaller projects by making them eligible for the streamlined CEQA process as well.”

To be eligible for the streamlined process, a project must:

  • Provide a minimum investment of $15 million, compared to the current $100 million threshold
  • Be located on an infill site and be consistent with the region’s sustainable communities strategy
  • Dedicate at least two-thirds of the project for residential use.
  • Dedicate a minimum of 15 percent of residential units as affordable housing

Both bills now go to the Senate Appropriations Committee as part of a package of legislation designed to spur affordable housing production in California.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.