OUR 2021 PRIORITIES
California REALTORS® are working at both the state and federal levels to create homeownership opportunities for all.
Legislation to Address the Root Causes of the Supply Crisis
Affordable Housing Fees. C.A.R. sponsors AB 571 (Mayes) to prohibit local governments from assessing affordable housing fees on the deed restricted affordable units contained within a density bonus application.
Updating California’s Affordable Housing Cost Study. Production cost increases are often passed along to buyers in the form of higher home prices or can increase the amount of subsidy needed to build affordable housing units. REALTORS® and policy makers need to have a clear view on the costs associated with housing production for both affordable and market rate construction if we are going to solve the state’s housing supply crisis. AB 244 (Rubio) will require that the California Affordable Housing Cost Study, which was released in October 2014, be updated in order to better understand the cost difference between constructing affordable and market rate housing.
Innovative Solutions that Will Build More Housing
Re-Purposing Underutilized Commercial Properties for Residential Units. C.A.R. supports SB 6 (Caballero) to require a local government to ministerially approve housing development: (a) On lots zoned for office, retail or commercial use within a residential neighborhood; and, (b) By request of property owners seeking to convert an existing vacant commercial shopping center, located near a residential neighborhood, from a commercial use to a residential or mixed residential and commercial use.
Fair Housing and Equity
More robust training for real estate licensees. C.A.R. sponsors SB 263 (Rubio) to require all real estate licensees to have implicit bias, and more robust equality and fair housing training as part of their pre-licensing DRE requirements and renewal requirements.
Removal or Masking of Discriminatory Language in Property Records. C.A.R. will co-sponsor legislation to mask or redact illegal restrictive covenants in real property records, and that any masked or removed statements be replaced with a cover sheet stating that address the history of such covenants. California, like most states, has a long and unfortunate history of allowing racial and other forms of segregation to be perpetuated through the use of restrictive language written into covenants. While these laws have long been unenforceable, they are still offensive. This legislation will allow for the affected records to be masked or redacted.
Preventing “affordable” units from being treated differently than “market-rate” units. C.A.R. sponsors AB 491 (Gonzalez) to ensure that: a) multifamily properties provide the occupants of “affordable” units access to the same common entrances, common areas, and amenities that are available to the occupants of market-rate units, and b) new multifamily properties do not isolate “affordable” units to a specific floor or area. “Affordable” units do not include transitional housing or other types of “special needs” housing.
Uniform Partition of Heirs Property Act (UPHPA). C.A.R. co-sponsors AB 633 (Calderon) which would add California to the list of states that utilize the Uniform Partition of Heirs Property Act (UPHPA), an act promoted by the Uniform Law Commission. Under current law, if several heirs jointly inherit a property and there is no will, trust or other method of conveying the property at the time of the owner’s death, one heir can go to court to force the sale of the entire property, often at below-market rates. These forced partition sales have had an outsized impact on those in financially disadvantaged groups. Under UPHPA, one heir will be able sell their interest in the property without forcing the sale of the entire parcel. Furthermore, where sales do become necessary, they will be market sales to maximize the inheritance rather than a probate sale, which often result in lower sales prices.
SCA 2 (Allen & Wiener) Public Housing Projects. Enacted by voters in 1950, Article 34 of the California Constitution requires that any development comprised of “low-rent” dwellings, financed in whole or in part by federal, state or local government, be approved by a vote of the people in the jurisdiction where the project is located. Article 34 does not just apply to “public housing”, but also affects mixed income developments which often contain units partially “subsidized” by local government. Since 1992, C.A.R. has had policy supporting affordable workforce housing and has sought to advance policies seeking to increase the state’s housing supply. C.A.R. is a co- sponsor of SCA 2, which seeks to repeal Article 34 in its entirety. This measure is a re-introduction of SCA 1 (2020).
Other "Good Government" Real Estate Measures
Increase Limit for Handyperson Project Cost. C.A.R. will sponsor or co-sponsor legislation that would increase the current $500 per project limit allowed for unlicensed handypersons. Current law, enacted in 1998, required that a licensed contractor be used for any household repair or improvement project if the cost of the time and materials for that project exceeded $500. Raising the limit would also increase the supply of workers for minor repairs and help reduce costs for home sellers. Lower income workers and communities of color are also disproportionately impacted by the handyperson limitations. This legislation will increase the current limit appropriately.
Business Dealings: Use of Prior Surname. Currently, a real estate licensee cannot transact business using a former legal name (including a “maiden” name). This bill seeks to clarify that a real estate licensee who is a natural person may use their former surname to conduct business so long as both names are filed with the Department of Real Estate. This will ensure that Realtors can continue to benefit from their name brand, recognition and community status despite a legal name change. C.A.R. sponsors AB 44 (Petrie-Norris) to allow real estate professionals to use their former surname associated with their business.
Mandating HOAs Maintain Websites & Email Communications. Existing law permits homeowners to opt-into electronic delivery for HOA communications and reports. C.A.R. is sponsoring legislation to require homeowner associations with 50 or more units to deliver documents by electronic delivery, unless the recipient has revoked their consent to electronic documents in writing or by email. This legislation will also require an HOA to maintain a website where general information such as a newsletter is provided.
Special Districts: Fee Transparency. Direct fees charged on residential parcels have been a growing local government finance tool since the inception of Mello Roos and the establishment of benefit assessment districts. While some County Accessors post a list of direct levy/special assessment contacts within the county, they do not include in that list the range of fees charged to individual parcels. Currently, County Accessors can provide special assessment data on a per parcel basis but do not provide a range for the County, as a whole, for each special district. In order to obtain information on direct levies, property owners must call each individual special assessment district. Until we have access to comprehensive special district assessment data, it will be impossible to determine whether direct levies play a significant role in long term housing affordability.
C.A.R. sponsors AB 119 (Salas) to require a County Assessor to publish general information about the direct fees collected from property owners, similar to the way they currently report the “Tax Rate Areas” within their county.