“The State’s density bonus law (Government Code Section 65915 – 65918) has over the course of the last several legislative sessions been the subject of bills modifying the statute and once again is the subject of three bills currently poised for adoption by the California legislature. Although the goal of several past bills was to clarify the statutory language, the results have often been to create even more confusion for cities attempting to implement this poorly drafted law. The overall intent of the law is to create incentives for developers to include affordable housing within their projects by granting increased density and other regulatory incentives. The reality of the law is that developers who include only small amounts of affordable housing in their projects – as little as 5 percent – are entitled to receive large incentives: density bonuses of 20 to 35 percent, depending on the amount and type of affordable housing provided; parking reductions; up to three “”concessions and incentives,”” and unlimited “”waivers”” from development standards.
This paper will discuss the background and current provisions of the state density bonus law, including calculation of the density bonus, incentives and concessions, waivers of development standards and reduced parking mandates; the relationship of state density bonus law to other planning documents; and some strategies to consider in the context of a city’s overall regulatory planning scheme. We anticipate providing an addendum to this paper at the conference to address any new statutory provisions if the pending legislation is enacted.”