Endorsement Request: SB4 – Affordable Housing on Faith and Higher Education Lands Act

On May 24, the Action Council is recommending to the Board of Trustees that UUCPA endorse an affordable housing bill that is making its way through the California Legislature.  This bill, SB4 – Affordable Housing on Faith and Higher Education Lands Act, would allow religious institutions and private institutions of higher education to build affordable housing on their property using a streamlined approval process that would avoid the need to rezone the property and would not require a conditional use permit from the city in which the property is located.  

Highlights of SB4:

  • SB 4 would only apply to 100% affordable developments. How affordable? At least 80% of the housing permitted by SB4 is required to be affordable to lower income households with income at 80% of median area income or lower.  
  • Up to 20% of units built could be for moderate income (up to 120% of median income). 
  • Building such units would not affect the non-profit tax status of a religious institution. 
  •  The bill as currently written would require labor used on larger projects to be paid prevailing construction wages and would require health care benefits for construction workers.  
  • SB4 projects would not be required to complete a full environmental impact report under CEQA (the California Environmental Quality Act) but would be required to complete a “Phase 1 Environmental Assessment”.  (Note – adding housing to an already developed site is generally a lower impact environmental land use.)
  • These detailed requirements will continue to be refined as the bill moves through the legislative process with various committees as well as the CA Senate and Assembly.

Supporting SB4 makes it quicker and more certain to win approval of affordable housing on religious and higher education sites. The Action Council recommends endorsement as a congregation. More affordable housing advances justice, equity and compassion in human relations and also advances racial and economic justice in our California communities. More affordable housing also reduces emissions by reducing commutes. 

We have attached an FAQ on SB4. You will see among the many endorsers local nonprofit developer MidPeninsula Housing, and the Redwood City and San Mateo UU churches. 

If you have questions or concerns about UUCPA’s possible endorsement of SB4, please contact either the Action Council (ActionCouncil@uucpa.org) or the Board (Boardxo@uucpa.org) no later than end of day Tuesday, May 23.