The Governor has signed a bill supported by industry, AB 1804 (Berman; D-Palo Alto) which will expand the existing California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) infill categorical exemption to residential and mixed-use housing occurring within an unincorporated area of a county.

Expanding this categorical exemption, will incentivize and streamline the development of affordable housing units in unincorporated areas surrounded by urban uses. Although the bill expands the geographic scope of the exemption, AB 1804 limits projects that may qualify to multi-family projects of at least six units at a density at least equivalent to the surrounding area, and no less than six units per acre.

AB 1804 balances the vital need for new housing while still ensuring that any potential project subject to the exemption does not have a significant effect on the environment, including when cumulative impacts of successive projects of the same type in the same place may result in significant effect or when there is a reasonable possibility that the project will have a significant effect due to unusual circumstances. Until significant changes are made to the underlying CEQA process, we support efforts to streamline the CEQA review process for the types of projects identified in this bill.

Adequate and affordable housing is fundamental for the well-being of communities, businesses and the economy of the state as a whole. While California continues to reel from one the most severe housing crisis the state has ever experienced, it is imperative on the Legislature to do everything within its power to help expedite the construction of new residential and mixed-use housing.

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