Office-to-Housing Conversion Becomes Hot Topic in Sacramento
California Democratic Assemblymember Matt Haney is looking to increase the availability of badly needed housing in the state, and has introduced a bill that would make it faster and easier to convert empty office buildings into new apartments and condominiums. “It makes no sense for people to be paying exorbitant amounts in rent and struggling to find adequate housing, when we have all these buildings sitting empty,” said Haney.
While the bill is aimed for urban cores which have seen pandemic-driven remote work empty office buildings, the new legislation would benefit property owners throughout California, even those in suburban low-rise office buildings that could be quickly converted.
According to the Orange County Register, AB 1532 would prevent local governments from blocking or delaying office-to-housing projects through special permitting processes, require conversions to be allowed regardless of local zoning laws, speed up the application process, limit fees and require 10% of conversions set aside for low- or middle-income residents.
Meanwhile, the LA Daily News reports that Gov. Gavin Newsom is slamming the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) for being weaponized as a tool to delay housing projects. The Governor said the state is being “held hostage by NIMBY’s” and vowed to help change the law which allows residents and organizations to sue, based on potential environmental impacts of housing developments.