Senate Bill 330, referred to as the Housing Crisis Act of 2019, contains two major parts intended to accelerate housing production over the next five years by streamlining permitting and ensuring no net loss in housing capacity. Governor Newsom signed SB 330 into law on October 9, 2019, and it will be in effect from January 1, 2020 until January 1, 2025 unless extended via additional legislation.
The first major part of SB 330 establishes various “good government” requirements that affect the processing of housing development projects in every California city and county. The second part of the law limits the ability of “affected” cities and counties—a smaller but substantial subset of agencies that are designated by the U.S. Census Bureau as “urbanized areas or urban clusters”—to downzone property and regulates the ability of developers to replace existing housing with new housing.
The focus of this blog post is the powerful new, and applicant-friendly, statutory form of vested rights referred to as a “preliminary application,” contained in the first part of SB 330, over which cities and counties have no discretion.