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New California Law To Speed Affordable Housing Construction in Greater Los Angeles

Governor To Sign Measure Protecting Projects From Some Environmental Lawsuits Until 2030

Affordable Housing Construction

The California state Legislature passed a bill to speed up affordable housing construction in greater Los Angeles. (Getty Images)

By Jack Witthaus

CoStar News

September 18, 2023 | 4:09 P.M.

Los Angeles is expected to get help accelerating affordable housing construction as the region grapples with some of the most expensive apartment rents in the nation.

A bill is headed to Gov. Gavin Newsom's desk to be signed into law after passage in the state Legislature last week. Assembly Bill 785 calls for exempting any activity approved by the city and county of Los Angeles from the California Environmental Quality Act until 2030. Known as CEQA, the more than 50-year-old rules require state and local agencies to disclose environmental impacts.

Affordable housing advocates have criticized the way CEQA allows real estate projects to be sued, slowing down approvals.

The bill was sponsored by Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass and authored by state Assembly Member Miguel Santiago.

"We need to remove all barriers and speed up all our efforts to put a roof over every head in Los Angeles,” Santiago said in a June statement about the legislation.

Newsom maintains more building is needed to alleviate housing demand. Los Angeles is among the top 20 most expensive markets for renting an apartment in the United States, according to CoStar data. About 95% of greater Los Angeles' housing construction in the past 10 years has been higher-end units, per CoStar data.

The bill is the latest attempt to speed up affordable housing development in California. Newsom signed into law Senate Bill 406 on Sept. 1 to stop certain types of repetitive CEQA reviews for affordable housing projects.

The Los Angeles apartment market has a 4.8% vacancy rate and an average monthly rent of $2,233, CoStar data shows.

CoStar News reporter Nicole Shih contributed.

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