In an attempt to support policies that will foster more affordable housing at the state level, in coalition with the CalChamber and the Building Industry Association, we have expressed support for SB 674 (Corbett; D-Hayward) which expands the definition of “residential” for purposes of the residential infill exemption under CEQA. The current residential infill exemption applies if certain conditions are met: either a) residential units only; or b) residential units and primarily neighborhood-serving goods, services, or retail uses that do not exceed 15 percent of the total floor area. This restrictive retail percentage severely limits the types of mixed-use infill developments that can qualify for the exemption. To put it in perspective, in order to devote the entire first floor of a mixed-use development entirely for retail purposes, the project would have to be seven stories. SB 674 would expand the retail limitation from 15 percent to 25 percent. This 10 percent retail limitation increase will foster a greater diversity of mixed-use infill developments, thus promoting California’s smart growth principles. For example, under SB 674, a four-story mixed-use development could qualify for the exemption if the first floor was devoted entirely to “neighborhood-serving goods, services, or retail uses.” These are the very type of neighborhood retail supported developments that California should encourage.  This bill has not yet been assigned to committee.

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