Senate Bill 35: Streamlined Affordable Housing

Frequently Asked Questions

What is California State Senate Bill 35? 

Senate Bill (SB) 35 went into effect on January 1, 2018 and changed the local review process for certain development projects. SB 35 applies to California Cities and Counties where production of new housing has not met the state-mandated Regional Housing Need Allocation targets. These Cities and Counties must use a streamlined, ministerial review process for qualifying multifamily residential projects.

At this time, qualified housing proposals with at least 10% affordable units may be eligible for the SB 35 streamlined process in Saratoga.

Which projects are eligible?

Housing projects qualify for SB 35 if they satisfy a number of criteria, including:

  • Provide the specified number of affordable housing units,
  • Comply with objective planning standards,
  • Are in an urban area with 75% of the perimeter developed,
  • Are on sites zoned or planned to allow residential use,
  • Are not located in the coastal zone, agricultural land, wetlands, or fire hazard areas,
  • And, pay prevailing wages (only for projects with 10 or more units).

What is a streamlined, ministerial review process?

The City must review applications for qualifying housing developments within a statutory time frame. The City must determine if the project is eligible for streamlined approval within 60 days of application submittal for projects of 150 or fewer units, or within 90 days for larger projects. If the application is eligible for review under SB 35, the City must review the project within 90 days after application submittal for projects of 150 or fewer units, or within 180 days for larger projects.

Ministerial review is based on compliance with set, objective standards and cannot involve subjective judgment. Qualifying projects are also not subject to environmental review under the California Environmental Quality Act.

What are objective standards?

“Objective zoning standards” and “objective design review standards” involve no personal or subjective judgment by a public official and are uniformly verifiable by reference to an external and uniform benchmark or criterion available and knowable by both the development applicant or proponent and the public official prior to submittal.

Additional Resources