Process Overview & Preliminary Application

What is SB 330?

Effective January 1, 2020 and through its expiration on January 1, 2025 (five years), California Senate Bill SB 330 (the Housing Crisis Act of 2019 - Government Code Section 65941.1) expands or amends existing State legislation, including the Permit Streamlining Act and Housing Accountability Act, with the broad goals of facilitating increased production of new residential units, protecting existing units, and providing for an expedited review and approval process for housing development projects through submittal of a “preliminary application.” 

Among other stipulations, SB 330 requires the following for applicable housing development projects:

  • New, non-objective development standards established after January 1, 2020, cannot be imposed or enforced.
  • Applicable housing development projects must receive a decision in no more than five (5) public hearings - whether the item is being heard by a Design Review Board, Planning Commission or City Council, and including any appeals (save for those related to a legislative action).
  • Prohibits any moratorium, project or action that would result in a net downzoning, limit the number of permits to be issued, or otherwise reduce housing or limit overall population. This requirement does not apply to zoning changes that might reduce intensity for certain parcels where density would be concurrently increased on others and therefore result in “no net loss” in zoned housing capacity or intensity.

In addition to facilitating the production of new/additional housing, SB 330 adds provisions intended to preserve existing housing units. For example:

  • No new housing may be approved that will require the demolition or removal of residential dwelling units, unless the project would create as many units as are proposed for demolition or removed or that existed in the previous five years (“no net loss” of existing residential units).
  • Any restricted/dedicated affordable unit must be replaced in-kind at the same income category and of equivalent size.
  • Tenant protections are increased by allowing occupants of protected units to live in the unit they occupy until six (6) months before construction of new units would begin, relocation benefits, and a “right to first refusal” must be provided to the household for a comparable unit at an affordable rent.

Link to Full Text of Senate Bill SB 330 (Housing Crisis Act of 2019)

Key Terms and Definitions

  1. Housing Development Project:
    1. Any project consisting of only residential units (two or more); 
    2. A mixed-use project proposing a combination of residential and commercial uses and where at least 2/3 of the of project square footage would be designated for the residential uses; or 
    3. A project proposing transitional and supportive housing. 
  2. Square Footage of Construction: The area of a building as defined by the California Building Standards Code (Title 24 of the California Code of Regulations).

  3. Deemed Submitted (Preliminary Application): A determination by a City or County that all information has been provided in accordance with their SB 330 checklist (including payment of a fee), and accordingly that the preliminary application is subject to all applicable allowances and benefits afforded by the statute.

What is a “Preliminary Application?”

SB 330 allows eligible housing development projects to submit a “preliminary application” - a questionnaire and checklist of required materials which, when deemed submitted shall have the effect of “locking-in” (vesting) the development requirements, standards, and fees in place at the time of determination. Thereafter, the City is prohibited from applying new ordinances, policies, standards and/or fee increases to the development.

What is the Process for Submitting a Preliminary Application?

To make a submittal pursuant to SB 330, the City’s preliminary application, Uniform Development Application must be completed, all listed materials therein, and the requisite fee submitted to the Planning Department. The Preliminary Application and Uniform Development Application are available at the links below.  

Following review of the preliminary application, Planning Department staff will provide either correspondence listing any missing materials and/or information, or a confirmation that the application is “deemed submitted.” Once the latter determination is made, an application or applications (as applicable) for required permits must be submitted to the City within 180 days. Note that if an applicable housing development project is revised following a determination of “deemed submitted” - and where the proposed number of residential units or square footage of construction changes by 20 percent or more - the PDA would lose its “deemed submitted” determination (and all allowances and protections afforded pursuant to SB 330), until the PA is revised to reflect the amended design. At the following link is a flowchart providing a step-by-step overview (both for submittal of a preliminary application and subsequently, entitlements for development) of a submittal made pursuant to SB 330.