The GPA Policy and Advocacy Committee has actively been tracking bills at the State General Assembly and has three bills that it recommended for opposition. Today, I am writing to let you know that the Executive Committee approved an official position OPPOSING HB 1406 Zoning Procedures, and HB 713/SB 535 Reducing Street Homelessness Act.
Because of the pace of this session, we are asking GPA members to take action immediately. Below is a summary from the Policy and Advocacy Committee.
HB 1406, Zoning Procedures for revisions of Single-family zoning districts to allow Multi-family.
This bill makes it more difficult for local jurisdictions to modify or revise the provisions of their single-family zoning districts to allow multi-family uses. In particular, this bill requires a city or county that wishes to adopt such zoning changes to follow a longer and more intensive public meeting process that includes the following:
- Adopt such decision through two public meetings during a period of not less than 21 days apart;
- Prior to such public meetings, hold two public hearings specific to the proposed changes within 3-9 months of any final zoning decision, and at least one must occur between 5PM-8PM;
- Post details of zoning change on any impacted properties, and posting every 500 ft in cases of where over 500 parcels are affected, as well as publish hearing information in the local newspaper 15-45 days prior detailing the changes would allow property owners to not comply with single-family residential zoning requirements; and
- Provide language of proposed amendment at no cost to any individual requesting the information.
These provisions apply not only to altering single-family zoning, but also to eliminating single-family zoning requirements for the purposes of authorizing multi-family zoning standards on the same properties.
These provisions would not apply to any property owner or authorized person seeking the rezoning to multifamily from the local government but is focused on city initiated rezoning or zoning ordinance amendments. This bill would place more barriers in the path of redevelopment, and hamstring community-initiated efforts to allow even the gentlest forms of increased density such as accessory dwellings units. The bill, if enacted will slow and discourage communities from addressing the housing crisis through regulatory reform.
Bill Status: HB 1406 passed the House on March 9, and currently, is in the Senate State and Local Governmental Operations Committee.
HB 713/SB 535, Reducing Street Homelessness Act
This bill would effectively criminalize homelessness, by creating a state-level misdemeanor charge for anyone who sets up camp on public property. It would also punish cities that refuse to enforce the ban by denying them state grants.
This bill would restrict cities with a per-capita homelessness rate higher than the state from receiving state funds if not enforcing current law on street camping or sleeping on public streets. This bill would also implement a program under the Department of Community Affairs (DCA) to redirect funding to cities for addressing homelessness via short-term housing or sheltering, requiring such funds to be used for safe parking lots, basic utilities, bathrooms, structured camping and individual unit shelters to be limited to six months of stay. Additionally, DCA would be tasked with designating state property for such purpose.
The bill puts a lot on the line for cities who are trying to do the right thing even if their actions have not yet turned the tide. Georgia Public Broadcasting reported “Department of Community Affairs Commissioner Christopher Nunn testified to lawmakers that the legislation is ‘financially risky’ for the state. He warned that there’s a potential that federal COVID relief funds may be revoked if lawmakers ban certain housing solutions.”
Bill Status: Both bills are still in committee, though SB 535 was favorably reported and could come up for a vote this week before Crossover Day on March 15.
Contact Members of the Senate Rules committee Today to Oppose SB 535
Thank you for your time and your commitment to Stand Up for Planning.