Los Angeles Times: California churches, nonprofit colleges could build homes on their land with proposed law

Scott Wiener speaking in front of trades council to a crowd off-camera.
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Callifornia capitol
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Scott Wiener at a podium speaking

SAN FRANCISCO — California nonprofit colleges and faith organizations such as churches, mosques and synagogues would be able to build affordable homes on their land under a bill introduced Tuesday to help alleviate the state’s worsening housing shortage and homelessness crisis.

If approved by lawmakers and signed into law, Senate Bill 4 would reduce barriers that religious and nonprofit organizations often face when planning multifamily housing projects on their properties, such as local zoning regulations and the state’s stringent environmental review process, which critics say can add years of expensive and red tape to the process.

“SB 4 will unlock an enormous, and I’m not exaggerating, an enormous amount of land for 100% affordable housing,” state Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) said at a news conference to announce the proposal, citing a 2020 study by UC Berkeley’s Terner Center for Housing Innovation that found nearly 40,000 acres currently used for religious purposes could be developed.

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