Governor Newsom Signs City-Sponsored Motel Conversion Legislation

Yesterday, September 26, 2019, Governor Gavin Newsom signed the California Environmental Quality Act exemption: supportive and transitional housing: motel conversion bill (SB 450) into law. Authored by State Senator Tom Umberg, SB 450 instates an avenue to increase capacity for supportive and transitional housing while the State and cities work to alleviate the housing crisis by exempting motel conversion projects from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

SB 450 would require any conversions to include supportive services such as case management, health care and substance abuse treatment either offsite or onsite. On November 13, 2018, the City Council voted to approve the 2019 State Legislative Agenda which encompassed the State Leg Committee’s recommendation to co-sponsor SB 450.

“The State’s housing crisis requires creative land use approaches, and SB 450 provides an efficient framework to convert motel units into supportive and transitional housing units,” said Mayor Robert Garcia.

SB 450 combines existing CEQA exemption law applicable to expedited developments with interim motel housing projects. In doing so, SB 450 facilitates the conversion of motels into housing units that provide services to help people experiencing homelessness or housing insecurity.

“California is one step closer to seeing neighborhood improvements thanks to SB 450,” said Senator Tom Umberg, who represents portions of Long Beach and Orange County. “This bill introduces an efficient mechanism to incentivize developers to prioritize transitional housing for vulnerable populations. We must support these life-changing efforts for those in need.”

Exempting CEQA from motel conversion projects could lead to cost savings of $100,000 to $1,000,000 per project, but more importantly, it allows for an expedited timeframe for project completion, which will be critical to adding housing capacity to support homeless services. 

“In this time of unprecedented housing need in the State, this bill provides a tool for cities to facilitate providing additional housing for underserved populations,” said Long Beach Development Services Director Linda Tatum. “Long Beach has long been at the forefront of innovative approaches to addressing the community’s housing need and we look forward to partnering with property owners to use this new tool. Our goal is to be proactive in seeking opportunities to transform existing motels to housing consistent with the City’s goals for housing production and neighborhood compatibility.”

SB 450 is supported by the City of Long Beach, California Big City Mayors, Gateway Cities Council of Governments and the California Apartment Association.

About the City of Long Beach

Home to approximately 480,000 people, the multiple award-winning and innovative City of Long Beach offers all the world-class amenities of a large metropolitan city while maintaining a strong sense of individual and diverse neighborhoods nestled together along the California coast. As a full-service charter city, Long Beach is home to the Queen Mary, Aquarium of the Pacific, several museums and theaters, a highly-rated school district, Long Beach Airport, the Port of Long Beach, as well as many award-winning City departments such as Health, Parks, Recreation and Marine, Development Services and more. The City also has a highly-respected university and city college, two historic ranchos, five hospitals, five golf courses, 170 parks, miles of beaches, marinas, bike paths, and a Bike Share program.

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