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SB 672 - An Update to the Community

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SB 672 – Legislation to Exempt City of Brisbane from the next Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) Cycle

Senator Jerry Hill introduced Senate Bill (SB) 672 in February, following the November 2018 citywide vote amending the Brisbane General Plan to conditionally permit significant residential development on the Baylands.  SB 672 would have provided the City an exemption from new RHNA requirements for the next planning cycle, thus permitting the City to focus on this historic development without concern for a regional housing allocation scheme outside the City’s control.

SB 672 enjoyed bipartisan, unanimous support as it moved through both houses of the legislature.  The bill was voted out of two committees in the Assembly, passed two committees in the Senate, and was voted off the Senate floor without a single “no” vote being cast against it.  Nonetheless, progress on the bill for this year came to a halt last week in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.   The Committee did not move the bill forward for a full Assembly vote after late opposition from the state Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD), thus preventing any chance for SB 672 to become law before 2020.

HCD argued that a RHNA exemption risks undermining reforms adopted in 2017 to ensure the process is workable.  HCD also argued that an exemption is unnecessary because the reforms would allow the city to appeal any inappropriate regional RHNA allocation directly to the state for resolution.

While we understand HCD’s argument, it ignores the complexity of what was accomplished last year and ultimately may jeopardize the future of housing development on the Baylands.

The City of Brisbane, in good faith, placed before the voters a General Plan amendment that allowed for the possibility of doubling the housing units in our town in the face of the state’s housing availability and affordability crisis.  This vote represented an extraordinary effort by our community to help our region and state.  The amendment was only approved after a multi-year negotiation marked by important confidence building measures between the city and the state.  SB 672 is the latest of these measures.  The exemption is intended to permit our community to be able focus on weaving new residents into the fabric of the community without the distraction of the often controversial RHNA process.  Legislators share the city’s view that this process is critically important, which is one of the many reason why no legislator cast a vote against SB 672.  Unfortunately, the importance of this process appears to be lost on HCD.

However, the City Council, city staff, and our representatives will be working to overcome HCD’s view between now and 2020 so that the city’s concern will be addressed.

We will continue to keep the community informed as we this process moves forward.