February 6, 2023

Looking for to alleviate the housing disaster by constructing properties in God’s yard, the brand new invoice will permit California church buildings, synagogues, mosques and different spiritual establishments to construct inexpensive housing on their property, even when the land just isn’t earmarked for residential use.

Simply sooner or later into the brand new legislative session, Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) unveiled Senate Invoice 4, the Religion Lands Inexpensive Housing Act. The invoice will get rid of pink tape for spiritual teams and non-profit faculties that need to construct low-income housing, making them proof against sure lawsuits, appeals, and denials within the allow course of.

As housing shortages proceed to power individuals out of an overvalued market, Bay Space spiritual establishments are displaying rising curiosity in changing unused properties, reminiscent of parking tons they do not want, into properties. Church buildings reminiscent of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Walnut Creek constructed low-income flats on their land. Others, reminiscent of Hayward’s First Presbyterian Church, have created tiny house communities for homeless residents. Supporters have dubbed the motion “YIGBI” or “yeah in God’s yard”.

Wiener is making an attempt for the third time to streamline housing development on spiritual lands. His earlier two makes an attempt – SB 899 in 2020 and SB 1336 earlier this 12 months – had been unsuccessful.

“It is a allure for the third time,” Viner mentioned Tuesday at El Bethel Arms, an inexpensive housing complicated for the aged in San Francisco owned by El Bethel Missionary Baptist Church, “and we’re going to go this laws to broaden inexpensive housing right here. to California.”

If handed, the invoice would mechanically redistribute land owned by faith-based organizations and nonprofit faculties to permit for housing improvement, in addition to exempt tasks on that land from lawsuits introduced underneath the California Environmental High quality Act. And it’ll power cities to approve developments so long as they adjust to the peak, density and different improvement guidelines of the world.

The regulation will solely apply to 100% inexpensive housing tasks.

Almost 40,000 acres of land in California is used for spiritual functions, in line with a examine by the Turner Heart for Housing Innovation on the College of California at Berkeley. The researchers estimate that in Alameda County, spiritual teams personal 1,000 acres that might be transformed into housing. There are nearly 100 extra in San Francisco.

However when church buildings and different spiritual organizations attempt, they usually get slowed down in such pink tape that they offer up, Wiener says. Overcoming the primary hurdle – rezoning land for residential improvement – is usually a headache.

A number of inexpensive housing advocates and non secular leaders joined Wiener in talking out on the invoice’s deserves. Dozens of Carpenters’ Union members additionally confirmed up carrying security vests and laborious hats to help the invoice.

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