How to Build and Profit from California’s New 2024 Housing Laws

The new California real estate laws for 2024 focus on streamlining housing production, addressing environmental quality issues, and modifying land use and planning regulations, among other areas. Following are the summarized categories and laws that have been put into effect[1]:


  1. SB 423 – Extension and Expansion of Streamlined Ministerial Approval Law for Affordable Projects Consistent with Objective Zoning Rules. /strong>
    • Specifics: Expands the purview of streamlined approval, originally under SB 35, to cover more types of affordable housing projects, now including those with labor agreements to pay prevailing wages.
    • Zoning Adherence: Projects must comply with local zoning that aligns with the state’s quantified objectives for housing.
    • Efficiency Drive: This law is crafted to substantially cut down the approval timeline for qualifying developments, pegged to objective standards rather than subjective local discretion.
  2. SB 4A Pathway for Institutional Land
    • Concrete Criteria: Guarantees the development of affordable housing on property owned by educational and religious institutions as a permitted use, effectively requiring local governments to approve such developments.
    • Strategic Utilization: Specifically targets the underused land resources of these institutions to foster housing growth in areas typically zoned for other non-residential uses.
    • Development Ease: Offers an additional by-right development opportunity for institutions willing to contribute land towards addressing the housing crisis.
  3. SB 684Small Site, Big Go-Ahead
    • Focused Permitting: Applies to small infill lots in urban areas, granting streamlined approval for projects with 10 or fewer units.
    • Target Zone: Encourages infill development by making it easier for small sites within existing neighborhoods to be developed promptly.
    • Catalyst for Infill Housing: The law specifically eases the process for small, urban lot development, unleashing previously untapped potential for urban housing.
  4. AB 1490The Nitty-Gritty of Reuse
    • Transformation Framework: Sets out the conditions under which commercial properties, including hotels and office buildings, can be converted into residential use without undergoing standard rezoning.
    • Resourceful Conversion: Opens the door to a more efficient repurposing of existing structures for residential purposes, specifically targeting the need for affordable housing stocks.
    • Streamlined Conversion: By avoiding certain zoning and planning hurdles, this law quickens the pace of conversions, thereby efficiently addressing housing shortages.
  5. AB 1114 & AB 281 – Reforms to post-entitlement permitting.

California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)

  1. AB 1633 – CEQA reform for infill housing.
  2. AB 1307 – Residential noise impacts.
  3. AB 1449 – Affordable housing exemption from CEQA.
  4. SB 406 – Financial assistance exemption.
  5. SB 91 – Motel conversion exemption.
  6. AB 356 – Dilapidated Building Refurbishment Act.
  7. SB 149 – CEQA administrative record reform.

Density, Land Use, and Planning

  1. AB 1287 – Additional density bonuses for very low or moderate-income units.
  2. SB 747 & AB 480 – Amendments to scale back the Surplus Land Act.
  3. AB 821 – Obligation to resolve general plan and zoning conflicts.
  4. SB 272 – Sea-level rise planning.
  5. AB 529 – Building code updates for adaptive reuse projects.

Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs)

  1. AB 1033 – ADUs can be sold separately as condos.
  2. AB 976 – Owner-occupancy requirements prohibited after 2025.
  3. AB 1332 – Streamlined 30-day approval for preapproved ADU plans.


  1. AB 434 – Expanded enforcement authority for the Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD).
  2. AB 1485 – Attorney general’s right to intervene in housing enforcement suits.

Anti-Displacement and Affordable Housing

  1. SB 439 – Motion to strike lawsuit challenging affordable housing.
  2. AB 1218 – Expansion of replacement housing and relocation benefits.
  3. AB 911 – Requirements for modifications to affordable housing covenants.
  4. SB 469 – Exemptions from Article 34 of the California Constitution for certain projects.
  5. ACA 1 & SB 789 – Amendments and bond measure considerations for affordable housing.

Financing and Costs

  1. SB 253 – Carbon emission disclosure.
  2. AB 1319 – Bay Area Housing Finance Authority’s authority enhancement.
  3. AB 835 – Fire marshal to study dual staircase requirement.


  1. AB 1308 – No increased parking requirements on single-family home renovations.
  2. AB 1317 – Unbundled parking for qualifying residential properties.
  3. AB 894 – Shared parking.

Use Cases for Investors and Builders

Streamlining and ADU Laws: Developers can leverage the streamlined approval processes for affordable housing projects and the by-right approval for projects on land owned by religious organizations and educational institutions to reduce development timelines and costs. The new rules about ADUs can allow for the creation of more units by selling them separately or bypassing owner-occupancy restrictions.

CEQA Reform: The CEQA reform laws can substantially benefit developers seeking to do infill housing projects or convert existing structures through reduced regulatory hurdles and faster approval times, especially in high-density urban areas. The new exemption for affordable housing projects can help mitigate environmental review costs and expedite the entitlement process.

Density Bonus Law Expansion: For projects that include very low or moderate-income housing, the expanded density bonuses can provide the opportunity to build more units than zoning would usually permit. This change can enhance project feasibility and potentially increase the return on investment.

Financing Innovations: The new laws around financing such as AB 1319 could allow for novel funding mechanisms that can reduce capital costs for developers focusing on affordable housing.

Parking: With changes in parking requirements, such as AB 894 facilitating shared parking, developers can potentially reduce the land area needed for parking, thereby increasing the land area available for development or open space, aligning with current trends towards less car-dependency in urban planning.

For investors and builders, these laws can offer numerous strategic opportunities to create and enhance real estate value through thoughtful project design, timely execution, and alignment with state goals for increased housing production and affordability.