SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — California State Sen. Scott Wiener introduced legislation on Friday that aims to increase affordable housing production throughout the state by easing zoning restrictions.

Under Senate Bill 899, nonprofit hospitals and faith institutions like churches, synagogues and mosques, would be able to build up to 150 affordable housing units on their excess property, regardless if local zoning prohibits that type of housing.

“California desperately needs housing of all kinds, including affordable housing of our low-income residents. Churches and other religious and charitable institutions often have land to spare, and they should be able to use that land to build affordable housing and thus further their mission,” Wiener said in a statement.”

“SB 899 ensures that affordable housing can be built and removes local zoning and approval obstacles in order to do so,” he said.

The legislation mandates that any organization building this type of streamlined affordable housing must maintain the affordability of the homes for a minimum of 55 years for rental properties and 45 years for properties that can be owned.

In addition, density and height restrictions will depend the location of the housing property and its proximity to major thoroughfares and commercial corridors. In low-density residential neighborhoods, affordable housing can be streamlines for projects with up to 40 units and three stories tall, while in mixed-use areas or commercial corridors, affordable housing may be streamlined for projects with up to 150 units and five stories high.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed, who has been an advocate for building more affordable housing in the city, said, “Senator’s Wiener’s legislation is a creative approach to addressing the housing shortage in San Francisco and across California. Our housing shortage is the result of decades of underbuilding and restrictive zoning, and as a result, the cost of housing in San Francisco is unaffordable for many of our residents. We need solutions to eliminate the red tape that gets in the way of creating more affordable homes in our city.”

Wiener’s bill will compliment Senate Bill 1851, authored by Assemblywoman Buffy Wicks, D-East Bay, which eliminates residential parking requirements for qualifying housing developments projects on faith-based properties.

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