AB 724 (Wicks), a rental registry bill opposed by C.A.R., will be amended to address C.A.R.’s concerns. Current law allows a local government to establish a rental registry within its jurisdiction. AB 724 establishes a new statewide rental registry that would have required ALL residential rental property owners to annually register their units with the Department of Housing and Community Development by providing and continually updating a multitude of information. C.A.R. has secured amendments to exempt small landlords who own or operate rental properties with 15 units or less from the provisions of the bill. C.A.R. will move to a neutral position on AB 724 once the amendments are in print. 

AB 1551 (Daly), C.A.R.’s Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) disclosure bill, passed out of the Assembly Local Government Committee. In recent years, the Legislature has sought to enhance consumer protections for PACE programs. However, there is still need for more clear and straightforward disclosures of the key terms of PACE and the consequences of such financing to consumers. This bill will further enhance disclosures for PACE program assessments.

SB 50 (Wiener), C.A.R.’s housing development bill, passed out of the Senate Housing Committee.  Existing law requires local governments to adopt ordinances which comply with implementation of housing development projects and to provide the developer with a density bonus and other incentives or concessions to produce lower income housing units. C.A.R. is co-sponsoring SB 50 which seeks to authorize the implementation of transit-rich housing project bonuses for new urban developments, similar to the Los Angeles City ordinance that was enacted in 2016. SB 50 also alleviates many of the concerns expressed by opposition in 2018 to a similar measure.

SB 621 (Glazer), a CEQA housing streamlining bill, passed out of the Senate Environmental Quality Committee. Currently, major projects such as sports stadiums and major corporate campuses are afforded an expedited review process, SB 621 seeks to provide qualifying housing developments the same streamlined process which includes a 270-day time line for CEQA challenges. This measure also seeks to add funding to the courts that will be reviewing expedited permits for housing developments to assist the courts to meet the new timeframe and uphold the urgent need for housing. 

Regulatory Update

First Point of Contact Solicitation Regulations approved by Office of Administrative Law
Current law requires licensees to disclose their Department of Real Estate (DRE) license identification number on all materials intended to be the “first point of contact” with consumers. These materials include business cards, stationary, and websites owned, controlled, and/or maintained by the soliciting licensee. Enacted in August of 2016, AB 1650 (Frazier, 2015) requires “advertisements in media” to also be included as a first point of contact. DRE released initial draft regulations in February of 2018 requiring licensees to include their license identification number on advertisements in electronic media, including, without limitation, internet, email, radio, cinema, and the opening section of streaming video and audio. C.A.R. submitted comments requesting amendments that would ensure that licensees are not required to list their license number on electronic media that they do not own and/or maintain (i.e.3rd Party Portals). The proposed amendments would clarify what electronic media licensees are required to provide first point of contact information on and ensures that licensees will not be penalized if required information does not appear on media that is not intended to be first point of contact information or in which the licensee has no real control. DRE accepted C.A.R.’s suggested amendments and the regulations were approved by the Office of Administrative Law in early-April. The regulations are planned to take effect on July 1, 2019.

Fair Housing Regulations rejected by Office of Administrative Law
Since 2016, the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) Fair Employment and Housing Council (Council) has held meetings for two distinct regulatory packages. The first package proposed regulations related to discrimination, harassment, and assistive animals. The second package consisted of regulations related to the use of criminal history in rental housing, which would have conformed California regulations to actions taken at the federal level. C.A.R. requested that the proposed regulations be amended to contain more stringent requirements on what constitutes sufficient evidence that a tenant requires a companion animal as an accommodation. Related to criminal history, C.A.R. also voiced concerns that some of the proposed regulations could limit the ability of landlords to adequately screen prospective applications and could be problematic to implement. Many of C.A.R.’s comments have been incorporated into the proposed regulation. The proposed regulations public comments and revision process exceeded the one-year rulemaking requirement. In December 2017, the Council initiated a new regulatory proceeding and released new draft regulations, combining the two regulatory packages into one document that is clearer and less complicated. C.A.R.’s requested revisions to help landlords properly evaluate a tenant’s request for a comfort animal were preserved in the new version.  However, there is concern that the Council’s new rules regarding the landlord’s ability to request verification of service animals may make it easier for tenants to make false claims that an animal is a service animal.  The regulations were adopted by the Council in late-January 2019, but was rejected by the Office of Administrative Law (OAL) in Late-March. The Council now has 10 days to submit an appeal to the OAL or 120 days to remedy the issues identified by the OAL and resubmit for approval.

Procedures for Discharges of Dredged or Fill Materials to Waters of the State adopted by State Water Resources Control Board
The proposed program under the State Water Resources Control Board would alter the definition of a “wetland” to include a much broader range of land than is currently considered to be a wetland under federal law, including areas with no vegetation. Such areas would then be subject to California regulation as Waters of the State. Consequently, the program imposes burdensome requirements that would slow or stop development and significantly increase costs. In August 2017, C.A.R. submitted comments as part of a broad coalition of business and land use interests to address the potential land use issues implicated under the proposed language. The final draft was released in early January and C.A.R. worked with the coalition and SWRCB staff in an attempt to prompt further amendments and clarifications to the final text.  The SWRCB did not accept any amendments that would have alleviated C.A.R.’s concerns and adopted the regulations at the April Board Meeting. The regulations will now be submitted to the Office of Administrative Law for approval.