Bay Area developers have submitted nearly three dozen “builder’s remedies” projects to bypass local zoning in 11 cities and counties to build more than 6,400 homes.

The growing number of mega-projects submitted under the “nuclear option” embedded in state housing law affects some of the wealthiest cities in the region, According to the San Jose Mercury News.

These projects include an eight-story apartment tower towering over the billionaire bedroom community in Los Altos Hills, hundreds of single-family condominiums in Brentwood, and Marin County 150 homes on a hillside in rural bucolic setting in County).

Many proposals aim to build in upscale areas long opposed to large housing projects.

This year, they include at least 34 builder remediation projects involving more than 6,400 units in 11 local cities and counties, according to a Bay Area News Group survey of local officials and planning documents across the region.

The builder’s remedy is a decades-old legal provision of the state Housing Liability Act of 1990 that was all but forgotten until last year. It is a penalty for cities that fail to meet state-mandated housing target deadlines, allowing developers to bypass local zoning if they provide enough affordable housing.

This untested legal strategy was first employed last year (Redondo Beach) and Santa Monica in Southern California, such as the real deal, impact on the Bay Area.

Matt Regan, a housing policy expert with the pro-business Bay Area Council, said when the state passed the builder relief rule, it was conceived as a “nuclear option” to spur cities to meet their housing responsibilities. The Bay Area Council helped draft the rule. law.

Some developers, tired of the red tape involved in the local permitting process, now see this as a great opportunity. “Those nuclear buttons are being pushed,” Reagan told The Mercury News.

Among Bay Area builder remediation projects, 15 are proposed in San Jose, five in Mountain View, three in Palo Alto, three in Los Altos Hills, and two in Brentwood , plus Menlo Park, San Mateo, Pleasanton, Sonoma, Fairfax and Marin counties.

One of the reasons developers making such proposals target wealthier cities is so they can charge higher rents and sales prices to offset the cost of affordable housing.

Advocates and developers say any city without a state-approved plan must accept builder remediation programs as long as at least 20 percent of units are affordable. Bay Area local governments have until Jan. 31 to obtain approval for their “housing elements” plans.

Four months later, only 28 of 109 cities and counties The area’s state regulators have signed off on an eight-year plan that will increase the Bay Area’s housing stock 15%. Cities are resisting builders’ applications for remediation.

Los Altos Hills said it could argue that earlier versions of its plans “substantially complied” with state law and was therefore free to reject them.Other towns — including San Mateo, Menlo Park, Atherton, Woodside, Lafayette, Concord and Pleasanton — have suggested they could Rejection of builder’s remedial proposal Regardless of whether the state government approves their plans. The state’s Department of Housing and Community Development released a letter this month that could effectively undercut their argument and bolster the legal permanence of the controversial provision.

— Dana Bartholomew

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