California Lawmakers Advance Bill To Allow Affordable Housing in Commercial Districts

Supporters Say Legislation Could Be Valuable Tool to Address State's Housing Deficit

By Randyl Drummer

CoStar News

May 24, 2022 | 12:04 P.M.

The California Assembly advanced a measure that would create a streamlined process for developers to convert

underused or vacant commercial properties into affordable units to help address the state’s housing shortage.

Assembly Bill 2011, introduced by Housing and Community Development Committee Chair Buffy Wicks, a Democrat

from Berkeley, passed 43-9 and will advance to the state Senate, where it must be approved and then signed by Gov.

Gavin Newsom to become law, according to California Legislature rules.

A broad coalition of affordable housing developers, advocates for the homeless and California mayors have supported

the bill as a tool to expand housing options to include areas now zoned for office, retail and parking.

The bill would require that all units in these developments be dedicated to households earning 80% of the area median

income or less at an affordable rent or purchase price.

Wicks said Monday on the Assembly floor that the bill would make it easier to build mixed-income affordable housing

on underutilized commercial sites where it is currently difficult or impossible to build because of local government

restrictions and other red tape.

“Polling shows that lack of affordable housing and homelessness are the number one issues for voters across the state,”

Wicks told colleagues, adding that she is working with union leaders and other groups to amend the bill in the state

Senate to make it more palatable to opponents.