Building homes on commercial land just got easier in California


California is well known for not having enough space to live. One tactic California lawmakers have been considering to address the state’s housing shortage is to open commercial space for housing. Lawmakers yesterday reached agreement on two bills that would allow residential development on a huge chunk of commercial land in the state.

The Sacramento Bee reports that Senator Anna Caballero, D-Merced, and Buffy Wicks, D-Oakland, spent most of this year negotiating with carpenters and unions and drafting legislation that would allow new homes to be built in areas Build designated offices or retail buildings. After reaching an agreement with unions, both lawmakers are confident their two free bills will pass without a hitch. Wick’s Bill, Assembly Bill 2011 grants home builders a fast-track permitting process that bypasses zoning statutes and local government approval, so long as developers ensure their builders are paid a prevailing wage and a percentage of newly built homes are affordable. Senate Bill 6, Caballero’s bill, would allow developers to build homes on commercial land at market prices, but these developments would be subject to local permitting processes. But just like Wick’s bill, job security is branded by awarding the first two building bids to union members, but all non-union workers must be paid the prevailing wage.

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A deal of this magnitude, let alone two, would have been considered far-fetched just a few years ago, as local officials have generally resented the construction of housing on plots earmarked for commercial use. Why? Because companies pay more property taxes than apartments. So much so that many local governments are willing to leave vacant land after a store closes, sometimes for decades, in hopes that another retailer will take its place. But after the pandemic pushed business online and fueled the work-from-home trend, making vacant shops and offices less likely to be snapped up, the idea of ​​building apartments on commercial land was cast in a more favorable light .


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