Governor Newsom Signs Senate Leader Atkins’ SB 7 to Restore, Expand CEQA Streamlining
SACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom today signed into law Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins’ SB 7—legislation restoring California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) streamlining provisions and expanding them to benefit small-scale housing projects. The legislation, which is an integral piece of the Senate’s “Building Opportunities for All” housing package and the first of the bills to be signed, would help stimulate economic development projects and create jobs for Californians.
“This bill is a win for the environment, the economy, and California as a whole,” Pro Tem Atkins said. “It speeds up the costly and time-consuming review process without compromising California’s strict environmental standards. With our economy in recovery mode from the impacts of COVID, high-wage jobs are needed, and this bill meets that demand. Now, shovel-ready, economic development projects will get started sooner, putting people to work and providing transformative change to communities across the state that are in need of jobs and housing. I’m appreciative to Governor Newsom and my Senate and Assembly colleagues for seeing the value of this legislation, and to Speaker Rendon for expediting this legislation – this bill is going to make a real difference for our state and the people who call it home.”
Governor Newsom signed SB 7 today at the site of Google’s new Downtown West project, a mixed-use development in San Jose’s Diridon Station Area.
“California’s recovery from the pandemic must tackle the housing shortage that threatens our economic growth and long-term prosperity,” said Governor Newsom. “Cutting red tape to save time and remove barriers to production helps us meet the urgent need for more housing while creating good jobs and preserving important environmental review. I thank Pro Tem Atkins and the Legislature’s leaders on housing for their partnership in taking on this challenge.”
SB 7, the Housing + Jobs Expansion & Extension Act, extends and broadens provisions of AB 900, legislation passed in 2011 to establish a new process under CEQA to streamline administrative paperwork and expedite legal challenges for large, multi-benefit, housing, clean energy, and manufacturing projects that have a capital investment of more than $100 million. AB 900 resulted in approval of nearly 20 major new clean energy and infill housing projects, amounting to an estimated $2 billion in the state and resulting in thousands of new housing units and high-wage construction and permanent jobs.
SB 7 extends the 2021 sunset of AB 900 through 2025, and because it extends the law to also include smaller projects—lowering the threshold of qualifying projects to $15 million and reducing the required investment by 85%—it is expected to yield even more housing and jobs in California. SB 7 also would help widen access to more traditionally-affordable housing options for Californians – the legislation maintains a requirement that qualifying projects have to include at least 15% lower-cost housing, be infill projects, and meet specified labor and environmental standards.
It also maintains California’s efforts to protect environmental standards by fully preserving environmental mitigation and challenging projects that do not mitigate their adverse effects. The bill excludes “sprawl” projects that would destroy important natural resources or prime agricultural lands.
The bill passed the Senate on a 34-0 bipartisan vote on March 1, and passed the Assembly on a bipartisan 70-1 vote on May 10.
Toni G. Atkins is President pro Tempore of the California Senate. Having previously served as Speaker of the California Assembly, she began her tenure in the Senate in 2016. As Senator for District 39, she represents the cities of San Diego, Coronado, Del Mar and Solana Beach. Website of President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins: www.senate.ca.gov/Atkins