SB 35

Nickname: Planning and Zoning – Streamlined Approval Process

Sponsor: Sen. Wiener

Year: 2017

Bill Text

What is it?

SB 35 streamlines housing construction in CA counties and cities that fail to build enough housing to meet state-mandated housing construction requirements. Cities are now required to submit biyearly reports of housing production and their progress towards Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) goals. If a city is falling behind on its goals for low-income or moderate-income housing, a state law kicks in which streamlines projects in those categories with predetermined levels of onsite affordable housing. Projects that meet affordability and other state guidelines would be required to be ministerially approved and bypass any discretionary process, removing the requirement for CEQA analysis, and removing the requirement for Conditional Use Authorization or other similar discretionary entitlements granted by entities like the Planning Commission or Historic Preservation Commission. This is a voluntary program that a project sponsor may elect to pursue, provided that certain eligibility criteria are met.

SB35 Encourages cities to build housing on their own accord or be forced to accept housing developments. 

Here’s a guide that has good info.


    • Requires cities to include rental market info in their biyearly housing report
    • Allows developers to submit an application to streamline approval processes in municipalities not meeting RHNA
    • Developments must be:
      • On land zoned for residential use
      • Designate at least 10% of units as below market housing if located in localities that did not meet above moderate income RHNA
      • designate at least 50% of units as below market housing in localities that did not meet low income RHNA
      • not be constructed in an ecologically protected area
      • be multi-unit housing and not single family homes
      • pay construction workers union-level wages
  • If developments meet all state mandated requirements: project must be approved within 60 days if development has less than 150 housing units or 90 days if development contains more than 90 units
  • Cities who fail to meet their RHNA goals (cities submit their housing progress report to HCD every couple years), then streamlining will be in effect for next 2 years. 

 Cities Affected By SB35 and Notable Projects

  • The Bay Area has seen the usage of this law
    • Valleco Shopping Mall in Cupertino
    • 681 Florida Street
      • Mission Economic Development Agency enacted SB35 to construct affordable housing in SF’s mission district
  • Only 28 cities and counties have met their lower and above moderate RHNA.
  • 298 jurisdictions have not created enough housing to meet their above moderate income RHNA.
    • Projects in these cities would qualify for SB 35 housing if developments have at least 10% of housing units are devoted to below market rate housing
  • 213 jurisdictions have not created enough housing to meet their  very low and low-income RHNA.
    • Projects in these cities would qualify for SB35 housing if developments have 50% of housing units are devoted to below market housing