One of the most challenging issues affordable housing developers face is acquiring land, particularly when faced with competition from market-rate housing developers who have more access to capital. Surplus or underutilized public land is one solution to this problem, as affordable housing developers receive priority in accessing government-owned land.

By State law, jurisdictions must make surplus, publicly-owned land available to housing developers before making the land available to the public. If a local agency receives interest from an affordable housing developer, it must enter into good faith negotiations to determine a mutually agreed upon sales price or lease term.

Surplus land is defined as “land owned by any agency of the state, or any local agency, that is determined to be no longer necessary for the agency’s use, except property being held by the agency for the purpose of exchange.”

Learn More in our Surplus Lands White Paper

SV@Home’s Position: Increase the Land Available for Affordable Housing

SV@Home is working to establish or enhance local policies or ordinances that give priority to affordable housing when public agencies dispose of publicly-owned or surplus land.

Our policy recommendations for surplus lands include:

  • All public agencies, regardless of charter city status, should abide by State law when they sell or lease publicly owned land by offering land no longer needed for a government purpose to affordable housing developers.
  • Public agencies should not only embrace the sale, lease, or dedication of land as a critical tool in the affordable housing tool box, but should proactively seek opportunities to use land under their control to create more affordable homes.
  • Public agencies should encourage timely implementation through making necessary zoning changes to accommodate housing on designated surplus lands.

Learn More in our Surplus Lands White Paper

Latest News (August 2019)

Assembly Bill 1486, passed in the 2019 Legislative Cycle, expands reporting requirements for local agencies in their housing elements and annual progress reports, and requires the State Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) to establish a surplus lands database for the State. Senate Bill 6 (SB 6) outlines similar reporting requirements as AB 1486, and gives authority to HCD to review sites submitted by local agencies for their suitability for residential development. In addition to efforts in the legislature, Governor Newsom signed an executive order in spring of 2019 that gave authority to the Department of General Services (DGS) and HCD to establish an inventory of underutilized state owned land, identify sites feasible for housing development, and issue Requests For Proposals (RFP) to begin developing affordable housing on appropriate properties.

Additional Resources