Supported by The Climate Center

AB 68 (Ward) Prohibiting housing development on climate risk lands

The ruins of vehicles and property on August 22, 2021 near Wofford Heights, California
Image Credit: David McNew, Greenpeace

Existing law, the Planning and Zoning Law, authorizes a development proponent to submit an application for a multifamily housing development that is subject to a streamlined, ministerial approval process, as provided, and not subject to a conditional use permit, if the development satisfies specified objective planning standards.

This bill would require a local government to approve a proposed housing development pursuant to a streamlined, ministerial approval process if the development meets certain objective planning standards, including, but not limited to, a requirement that the proposed parcel for the development be a climate-smart parcel, as described, or be included in the applicable region’s sustainable communities strategy as a priority development area. The bill would set forth procedures for approving these developments and would set forth various limitations for these developments. The bill would authorize the Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) to review, adopt, amend, and repeal guidelines, rules, and regulations to implement uniform standards or criteria that supplement or clarify the terms, references, or standards set forth by this process.

Existing law requires HCD to notify a city, county, or city and county, and authorizes the department to notify the office of the Attorney General, that the city, county, or city and county is in violation of state law if HCD finds that the housing element or an amendment to the housing element does not substantially comply with specified provisions of the Planning and Zoning Law, or that the local government has taken action in violation of specified provisions of law relating to housing, including, among others, the Housing Accountability Act, the Density Bonus Law, and the Housing Crisis Act of 2019.

This bill would add the streamlining procedures added by the bill to the list of laws subject to this notification requirement.

The Planning and Zoning Law requires a city or county to adopt a general plan for land use development within its boundaries that includes, among other things, a housing element. Existing law also sets forth various procedures related to land use actions and utility service in local jurisdictions, including, but not limited to, a requirement that a tentative a final map be made for certain housing projects, including all subdivisions creating 5 or more parcels.

This bill would prohibit a county, or city if certain conditions are met, from increasing the planned density on climate resilient lands, as defined, from approving any tentative, final, or parcel maps for the subdivision of property within climate risk lands or climate refugia lands, as defined, and from approving an extension of water or sewer services on climate resilient lands unless specified planning requirements or conditions are met. The bill would require, as part of those requirements or conditions, the county or city to make certain findings that are confirmed by the Office of Planning and Research. The bill would set forth procedures for requesting those findings from the office. The bill would make conforming changes.

Committee Location: Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee

Full bill text and related information.

Bill Author