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Assembly Member Miguel Santiago Introduces Bills to Create More Housing

For immediate release:

(Sacramento, CA) – On the heels of President Biden’s speech yesterday at the “National League of Cities” where he talked about the importance of creating more housing units, Assembly Member Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles) earlier today announced the introduction of two bills to do just that. Sponsored by Central City Association of Los Angeles (CCA), AB 2909 and AB 2910 will bring more housing units online through adaptive reuse (the safe conversion of underused commercial buildings for residential uses).

The COVID-19 pandemic spurred a significant shift in the way people work, reducing the amount of time spent working in offices and increasing the amount of work done on a hybrid schedule or entirely remotely. However, trends in remote and hybrid work have stabilized with day-to-day office occupancy hovering around 50 percent in city centers across California. Meanwhile office vacancy rates generally continue to climb as tenants allow their leases to expire or downsize.

“We desperately need more housing units and we must make it easier to live in downtown areas,” said Assembly Member Santiago. “That’s why adaptive reuse is a critical tool to addressing California’s housing crisis and furthering our sustainability goals while breathing new life into downtowns across the state. We can do this by cutting red tape and creating more incentives through our bills AB 2909 and AB 2910.”

“We’re grateful to partner with Assemblymember Santiago on a legislative package that will help make adaptive reuse a viable tool for tackling our housing crisis while sparking economic recovery for downtowns,” said Nella McOsker, President & CEO of CCA.

AB 2909 expands the Mills Act, an economic incentive program in California for the restoration and preservation of qualified historic buildings by private property owners, to incentivize the conversion of commercial buildings to residential uses. Specifically, the bill would make buildings that are at least 30 years old and located in commercial zones eligible for Mills Act contracts and require that property tax savings be reinvested in retrofitting and repurposing existing buildings to create new residential rental units.

AB 2910 enables jurisdictions that are designated as “Prohousing” and that are compliant with state housing law to adopt alternative building regulations to facilitate the conversion of commercial or industrial buildings to residential units.

AB 2909 and AB 2910 are expected to be heard in the Assembly Local Government Committee in April.

Assembly Member Miguel Santiago is the Assistant Assembly Majority Leader. He serves on the Arts, Entertainment, Sports and Tourism Committee, the Health Committee, and the Utilities & Energy Committee. He represents the 54th District composed of the cities of Los Angeles, Commerce, Montebello, and Vernon.