On January 1, 2023 Assembly Bill 2234, an important new post-entitlement accountability and streamlining law that amends the Housing Accountability Act and adds new sections to the Planning and Zoning Laws, takes effect in California.
Unlike other recent legislation specifically addressing the entitlement process so as to significantly curtail local authority over housing development projects, AB 2234 focuses only on the post-entitlement permitting process, which is frequently plagued by local agency delays once a new housing project has been approved.
The categories of post-entitlement permits covered by SB 2234 include permits for demolition, excavation and grading permits, building permits, and permits for off-site improvements. For such permits, AB 2234 requires local agencies to determine whether an application for a post-entitlement permit is complete and provide written notice of its determination within 15 business days after application submission. If the local agency fails to meet the deadline, the permit application will be deemed complete. Once the application is complete, the local agency then has a short window to approve or deny the application. In particular, the agency has 30 business days for housing projects with 25 units or fewer units and 60 business days for projects with 26 units or more. Although local agencies may extend these timelines by making written findings that the post-entitlement permit might have a specific, adverse impact on public health or safety and that additional time is necessary to process the application, such findings will be exceedingly hard if not impossible to make.
Importantly, a violation of AB 2234 constitutes a violation of the Housing Accountability Act, which establishes various penalties—including attorney’s fees.
AB 2234 is a critically important new housing law that should make it easier to hold local agencies accountable and thereby allow construction of new housing projects.
Questions? Please contact Bryan W. Wenter, AICP of Miller Starr Regalia.
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