By Kay Wilson-Bolton
March 21, 2006
REALTORS® are known for generally supporting housing developments because we help people buy and sell homes.
Beyond that, we are also charged with the responsibility of protecting neighborhoods and quality of life issues in our communities. We are also champions of due process to determine whether or not a development meets the needs of the community.
The California Association of REALTORS® is sponsoring an interesting piece of legislation
SB 1177 — Density Bonus. (Hollingsworth, R-El Cajon). It will be considered for a vote in the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee this week.
The California Association of REALTORS® is sponsoring this bill because, statewide, housing is desperately needed. Conservative estimates show that 250,000 new housing units are needed in California each year.
However, local governments only approve plans to build half that number. California’s housing supply crisis threatens the state’s economic health and its citizens’ quality of life. AB 1177 will further encourage the creation of new housing.
SB 1177 makes necessary and minor changes to the density bonus law. Expands the incentives for builders of moderate-income family housing. Many thousands of households are now being squeezed out of housing options. By giving builders more options, more housing will be built for those who need it.
Some local governments are abusing the current law to micro-manage builders. Requiring developers to open their books to local government in order to prove that a waiver or modification of a local government development standard is necessary, gives local governments the opportunity to dictate, for example, the profit margins of homebuilders, the type of appliances, marketing strategies and design styles to be included in the development.
Under current law, if a homebuilder’s plan meets certain conditions it is eligible for a density bonus or “upzone”, which means that a few more homes can be built on a property for low or moderate households.
This year, C.A.R. is sponsoring SB 1177 to prohibit local governments from examining the financial records of housing developers seeking a density bonus when they apply for a waiver or reduction in development standards.
Requiring developers to open their records to local government in order to prove that a waiver or modification of development standards is necessary gives local governments the opportunity to dictate, for example, the developers profit, the type of appliances, marketing strategies and design styles that should be included in the development.
Additionally, since local governments are not financially contributing to the subdivision, they should not have the right to inspect the financial records. Some might disagree, for now, that’s where we stand.
Kay Wilson-Bolton is the owner and Broker of CENTURY 21 Buena Vista and brings a regional perspective to local issues. She can be reached at 805.340.5025.