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Tags: housing crisis | california | homeless

New California Housing Laws Include Building in Church Parking Lots

By    |   Sunday, 22 October 2023 09:34 AM EDT

A slew of new laws in California have legalized construction in more neighborhoods around the state — including church parking lots — in a bid to fix one of the worse housing crises in the country.

Fifty-six bills were signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Oct. 11 addressing housing for a state where a third of the nation’s unsheltered and homeless population reside, according to Business Insider.

The bills help lift regulations that make building either wildly expensive or impossible.

"The wind is in our sails right now," Ned Resnikoff, policy director at the pro-housing group California YIMBY, or "Yes In My Backyard," told the news outlet. "There's really a lot of momentum behind efforts to solve the housing crisis in California." 

Among the new laws are those to loosen environmental restrictions.  

"Almost anything under the sun can be considered an environmental impact,” Chris Elmendorf, a professor at University of California Davis School of Law, told the outlet.

He included noise pollution as well.

Another law would fast-track the building of affordable homes by requiring local governments to approve multi-unit housing in existing residential neighborhoods — taking particular aim at San Francisco, Insider reported.

The bill will require the city to undergo annual reviews and fast-track both market-rate and affordable housing construction.

Still another will make it easier for nonprofit colleges and universities and faith-based organizations to build affordable housing on land they already own.

Known as "Yes in God's Backyard," it would let organizations bypass certain environmental regulations and permit rules to build homes in church parking lots and other underutilized or surplus land. 

UC Berkeley's Terner Center for Housing Innovation found there are more than 170,000 acres of land that could be put to use. 

Resnikoff noted religious organizations are especially well-positioned to provide housing for low-income and even unhoused community members.

"We have this whole network of mission-driven organizations across the entire state, many of which would be quite eager and willing to minister to the most housing-burdened in their areas, and this is a way to provide that opportunity," he said.

Another law makes it harder for cities to abuse the existing environmental law by slowing down or derailing housing construction. San Francisco Mayor London Breed has called the law "a game changer" for her city, which has long been the poster child of housing crises, Insider reported.

California’s housing policies have already inspired copycat efforts across the country. Resnikoff said he saw lots of similarities between New York City Mayor Eric Adams' new proposed housing reforms that include legalizing building small secondary housing units on one's property and boosting density in commercial corridors. 

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Fran Beyer

Fran Beyer is a writer with Newsmax and covers national politics.

© 2024 Newsmax. All rights reserved.


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A slew of new laws in California have legalized construction in more neighborhoods around the state — including church parking lots — in a bid to fix one of the worse housing crises in the country.
housing crisis, california, homeless
454
2023-34-22
Sunday, 22 October 2023 09:34 AM
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