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Toni Atkins bill to restore local control over affordable housing sent to governor

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- AB 1229, a bill by Assembly Majority Leader Toni Atkins that will ensure that local governments can require affordable housing set-asides in new developments, if they choose, was passed by the California State Senate today, sending the bill to Governor Brown.

The bill addresses uncertainty and confusion created by a 2009 appellate court ruling that the state’s rent control law, the Costa-Hawkins Act, prohibits such programs for rental housing.

“Inclusionary zoning is a critical tool that has provided affordable homes to over 80,000 Californians. My bill gives local governments a green light to continue using this tool without fear of conflicting with state law,” Atkins said. “Affordable housing is critical to both communities and families because it enables workers to live near where they work, even in high cost parts of our state.”

Inclusionary zoning is a land use practice through which local governments promote affordable housing. These policies have been in use for over 40 years, but were challenged in the case of Palmer/Sixth Street Properties L.P. v. City of Los Angeles. In Palmer, the court held that the provision of Costa-Hawkins which gives developers, and not government, the right to establish initial rental rates applies to privately financed rental housing projects and voids many inclusionary housing policies.

At least 140 California cities and counties have some form of inclusionary housing policy. Many of these include a provision allowing the developer to pay a fee to the local government in lieu of actually offering low cost housing.

AB 1229 is sponsored by groups seeking to maximize housing options for low income people, including the Western Center on Law and Poverty, the California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation, the Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California and the San Diego Housing Federation.

Governor Brown has until Oct. 13 to sign or veto the measure.