Assemblymember Matt Haney (D-San Francisco) is hoping to make a dent in California’s housing crisis by looking toward office spaces. Haney has introduced the so-called “Office to Housing Conversion Act,” which would make it easier for developers to convert office spaces into apartments throughout the state.
The legislation would also prevent local officials from blocking housing projects so long as at least 10 percent of the units are affordable.
In its current form, the bill would also require conversions be allowed in all areas regardless of local zoning laws; require planning departments to respond to conversion applications within 90 days of submission; limit development fees on conversion projects.
“My colleagues know there’s tremendous urgency to get this done and that we can’t wait for each individual locality to figure this out,” Haney told reporters. “The state as a whole has a huge interest in getting housing built for our struggling downtowns. Our downtowns still have a lot to offer. We need to make sure they are safe, clean, vibrant places, and building more housing is a big part of that.”
Cities including New York are also looking at office conversions as well.