Issue 576 Fall 2023
Image: SPUR Sponsors Nine Successful California State Bills in 2023
Photo by Sergio Ruiz

SPUR Sponsors Successful California State Bills

New legislation will make it easier to build housing, speed up the move from fossil fuels to electricity, and so much more.

Urbanist Article

You know SPUR as a Bay Area organization. So why are we sponsoring state bills? Our years working regionally and locally have taught us that many of the decisions that impact life in the Bay Area are made at the state level. State action is often the most effective way to scale our impact, solve shared challenges, and break through impasses at other levels of government. So three years ago, we committed to working deeply on statewide legislation and regulatory reform. SPUR partners with state legislators to sponsor senate and assembly bills, brings together coalitions to build support for these proposals, and, often, helps write the legislation itself.

The payoff for this move has been big. Since 2020, SPUR has sponsored nearly 20 successful bills and supported many others. Many of them are transformative; others are part of a long-term strategy to chip away at obstacles to creating a more sustainable, equitable, and prosperous region. For example, we’ve been advocating for proven land use policies that make it possible to produce more housing — quickly and at scale — to address the Bay Area’s housing crisis. In 2021, along with our partners in the California Home Building Alliance, we supported Senate Bill 9 (Atkins), which allows duplexes and fourplexes in single- family neighborhoods. We followed up by sponsoring 2022’s Assembly Bill 2097 (Friedman), which reduces the cost of new housing by prohibiting cities from requiring a minimum number of parking spaces in housing developments near transit, and by supporting AB 2011 (Wicks) to allow housing to be built in commercial zones by right. And in 2023, we sponsored Assembly Bill 1633 (Ting), which prevents cities from withholding an environmental clearance that a housing development is legally entitled to. Collectively, these legislative victories will help us achieve our goal of adding more than 2 million units of new housing at all income levels in the Bay Area.

This year was a particularly successful one for our state legislation work. Governor Newsom signed into law nine pieces of SPUR- sponsored legislation that will, among other things, prevent the misuse of environmental review processes to stop or delay new housing, pilot speed safety cameras on streets with high crash rates, and accelerate timelines for connecting all-electric buildings and EV charging stations to the power grid. A few of the bills we sponsored didn’t move forward this session — but we’ll continue advocating for their policy changes in the new year.


SPUR State Legislation Wins, 2020–2023

Key bills that SPUR sponsored or supported



Senate Bill 288 (Wiener) Exempts sustainable transportation projects, such as bike, pedestrian, bus, and light-rail projects, from environmental review until 2022
Assembly Bill 831 (Grayson) Clarifies details of SB 35, the 2017 legislation to streamline housing approvals, including allowing minor design modifications to streamlined projects
Assembly Bill 2553 (Ting) Allows suspension of some building standards and environmental reviews for emergency housing during a shelter crisis


Senate Bill 7 (Atkins) Provides expedited judicial review for large-scale development projects, including mixed-use projects, that meet specified environmental and labor standards
Senate Bill 9 (Atkins) Allows the subdivision of residential lots and the construction of duplexes and fourplexes in single-family neighborhoods
Senate Bill 290 (Skinner) Clarifies that, for the purpose of calculating the number of affordable housing units, “total units” excludes units added by a density bonus
Assembly Bill 602 (Grayson) Requires local jurisdictions to adopt a capital improvement plan as part of a nexus study for development impact fees and to base fees on square footage
Assembly Bill 1174 (Grayson) Improves on 2017’s SB 35 by clarifying timelines for project modifications and the resolution of lawsuits



Senate Bill 922 (Wiener) Extends 2020’s SB 288 streamlining for clean transportation projects to 2030
Assembly Bill 2011 (Wicks) Allows affordable and mixed- income housing developments to be built in commercial zones


Assembly Bill 2097 (Friedman) Prohibits cities from requiring a minimum number of parking spaces in new housing developments near transit
Senate Bill 379 (Wiener) Automates the permitting process for residential solar systems and energy storage systems
Assembly Bill 2206 (Lee) Makes it easier for employers who provide free parking to offer a cash equivalent to those who choose to give up their parking space
Assembly Bill 2668 (Grayson) Clarifies how SB 35’s housing approvals streamlining applies to specific situations, such as those involving conditional use permits and sites with underground storage tanks


Assembly Bill 1633 (Ting) Clarifies that cities cannot deny or withhold an environmental clearance that a housing development is legally entitled to
Assembly Bill 821 (Grayson) Creates a notification process and time limit of 180 days for cities to align their zoning code with their general plan when a project application is under consideration
Assembly Bill 894 (Friedman) Requires cities to allow existing underused parking spaces to be shared by new developments and to help meet parking requirements for those developments
Assembly Bill 1287 (Alvarez) Provides a 70% density bonus for housing finance deals that include at least 20% of units for very-low- income households (those making 50% or less of the area median income)
Assembly Bill 911 (Schiavo) Authorizes affordable housing developers, and not just property owners, to apply to modify restrictive covenants to allow for an affordable housing development on a property
Senate Bill 125 (Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review) This trailer bill for California’s 2023–2024 transportation budget includes a multi-year, $5.1 billion funding package for transit, providing needed financial relief to operators
Assembly Bill 645 (Friedman) Allows six California cities to test a limited number of speed safety cameras on streets with high crash rates and in school zones
Assembly Bill 1317 (L. Rivas) Allows a 10-county pilot mandating that new housing developments with 16 or more units must unbundle parking fees from the cost of rent
Senate Bill 410 (Becker) Addresses the very long timelines for connecting electrified homes, EV chargers, and new housing to the power grid