Essential Terms and Phrases

Qualifying Residential Project – To address California’s housing crisis, the State has passed a number of laws establishing incentives to support housing development. A qualifying residential project is a project that meets the criteria of one or more of these laws that require certain residential projects (SB 35 and SB 330), typically affordable housing projects, to undergo ministerial review. Certain projects may only be denied approval by local governments if they do not comply with these objective standards or pose a threat to public health and safety.  

Planning Review – Review of a development project application compliance with the City’s Implementing Ordinance, SMART code, and for consistency with other applicable planning documents, such as the City’s General Plan, is referred to as Planning review. Reviews include whether the use is allowable, the size of the structure in comparison to the lot, the number of units per acre, building design, and site design which includes building orientation, fencing, parking, landscaping, lighting, etc.  

Discretionary Review – Review of a proposed development project for compliance with standards and consistency with guidelines that allow a review authority such as a Planning Commission to determine if compliance is achieved. 

Ministerial Review – Review of a proposed development project for compliance with objective standards that are not subject to interpretation by a review authority such as the Planning Commission. 

Housing Accountability Act (HAA), Government Code § 65589.5 – Established in 1982 and recently amended to expand and strengthen provisions as part of overall recognition of the critically low volumes of housing stock in California, the HAA limits local government’s ability to deny, reduce the density of, or make infeasible housing development projects, emergency shelters, or farmworker housing that are consistent with objective local development standards and contribute to meeting housing need. 

SB 35: Streamlined Ministerial Approval Process – Requires a streamlined ministerial approval process for development in localities that have not yet made sufficient progress towards their allocation of the regional housing need. Eligible developments must include a specified level of affordability, be on an infill site, comply with existing residential and mixed-use general plan or zoning provisions, and comply with other requirements such as locational and demolition restrictions. 

SB 330: Housing Crisis Act of 2019 – This recently adopted State law prohibits local jurisdictions from enacting new laws that would have the effect of reducing the legal limit on new housing within their borders, or delay new housing via administrative or other regulatory barriers. Pursuant to SB 330, an eligible project is vested under objective standards in place at the time that an eligible application is submitted. 

AB 2162 Supportive Housing Streamlined Approval Process – Amends Government Code Section 65583, Requirements of Housing Element, and adds Code Section 65650 to require local entities to streamline the approval of housing projects containing a minimum amount of Supportive Housing by providing a ministerial approval process, removing the requirement for CEQA analysis and removing the requirement for Conditional Use Authorization or other similar discretionary entitlements granted by the Planning Commission. 

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