New California law aims to build affordable housing faster

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill last week that lawmakers say will help speed up the process of building new affordable housing in California

State Sen. Dave Cortese says this bill will cut through some of the red tape that keeps housing projects stalled and Californians longing for more affordable housing. 

"We have young people moving out of the area. We have older people that are struggling with the cost of housing," said Cortese, whose district includes parts of San Jose and other Santa Clara County cities.   

Cortese says lawmakers across the state know there isn’t enough affordable housing and State Senate Bill 406 is just one of the many steps they’re taking to do something about it. The bill addresses the environmental studies that are currently required by CEQA or the California Environmental Quality Act. 

"There’s just nothing worse than having a project all ready to go, ready to build ready to house people, already cleared environmentally, just to find out that the little bit of government financial assistance that you’re getting is going to cause you to have to go through those hoops all over again," Cortese said. 


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CEQA requires state and local agencies to evaluate and disclose the potential impact of new projects on the environment. Senate Bill 406 will eliminate repetitive environmental reviews once a project has been cleared, ultimately allowing projects to move forward in timely fashion.  

"The second CEQA clearance will no longer be a requirement after January 1st," Cortese said. 

Cortese says there are projects throughout the Bay Area including in his own district that have been slowed down by having multiple environmental evaluations. He says California lawmakers realize they need to do all they can to build affordable housing faster. 

"You know fast has not been fast enough for the people who have been seeing their kids move out of state, you know families kind of broken up," Cortese said.  

Cortese also says because of Senate Bill 406, he believes the state will now provide more financial incentives to builders to build housing a lot faster.