May 2021 Government Affairs Report
As we approach the halfway point of 2021, we continue to build on the 2020 government affairs success we had creating new opportunities and funding for the modular industry. MBI’s Government Affairs Director, Jon Hannah-Spacagna, continues to work closely with our lobbying teams in California, Washington, DC and New York to promote and protect our industry by forming coalitions with likeminded organizations as well as utilizing relationships at the regulatory, state, federal and provincial levels to present new opportunities for MBI members.
MBI Defeats New York Anti-Modular Bills!
In New York, companion bills A2039/S4738 would have required continuous supervision of the construction of the modular components by NYC-licensed electricians and plumbers, regardless of the factory location. These bills were not brought for a final vote in the Assembly as the legislative session came to a close in the early hours this morning. MBI Government Affairs Director, Jon Hannah-Spacagna and MBI's New York lobbyist, Claudia Granados, spent the last six months meeting with bill sponsors, leadership in both houses, working with coalition partners and finally with leadership in the central staff office to prevent the bill from coming to a vote during the final voting session.
MBI and Illinois Legislators Working Together
The Illinois State Legislature recently passed SB1839 with primary bill sponsor Senator Mattie Hunter (D-3rd District; Majority Caucus Chair) and House sponsor Rep. Sonja Harper (D-6th District). This unprecedented bill will require that structural requirement codes adopted for modular dwellings shall be no more stringent than the requirements contained in the most recent edition of the International Residential Code for One- and Two-Family Dwellings or the International Building Code, as applicable.
The bill also provides that the Code of Standards shall permit the use of new technology, techniques, methods, and materials for both modular dwellings and mobile structures consistent with recognized and accepted codes and standards developed by the Illinois Energy Conservation Code.
This bill originated out of Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office. MBI Government Affairs Director, Jon Hannah-Spacagna, worked for the past several months with elected officials and their staff to provide letters of support and witness slips/written testimony in support of this legislation. Showing strong support from both sides of the aisle, the bill passed both houses unanimously.
“This legislation,” said Hannah-Spacagna, “will provide a level playing field for developers, modular manufacturers, suppliers and employees of the modular industry in the state of Illinois to take full advantage of the modular construction process without unnecessary regulations against our industry.”
Tom Hardiman, executive director of the Modular Building Institute (MBI), stated, “MBI is the leader of the modular construction industry and is always working to open new opportunities to grow the industry. We look forward to continuing this partnership to help Illinois maximize the use of modular construction for their many building needs, including affordable housing, healthcare, hospitality and schools, to name a few.”
The bill will now go to Governor Pritzker’s desk for signature into law. According to the state of Illinois guidelines, the governor has 60 days to sign the bill or it will automatically become law.
In California, the following bills MBI is supporting have passed crossover and we will continue to work on them with our coalition partners:
SB 9 (Atkins - D) Housing development approvals – MBI Supports w/ Coalition Letter
- Requires that qualified applications to a local government to create a duplex or subdivide an existing residential parcel be approved ministerially without discretionary review or hearing.
- Would promote small-scale neighborhood residential development by streamlining the process for a homeowner to create a duplex or subdivide an existing lot in all residential areas. These small-scale development policies build upon successful state housing measures like the promotion of Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs). • The proposed housing development must meet certain requirements, including, that the proposed housing development would not require demolition or alteration of housing that is subject to a recorded covenant that restricts rents to moderate, low, or very low-income families; the proposed housing development does not allow for the demolition of more than 25% of the existing exterior structural walls; and that the development is not located within a historic district.
SB 10 (Wiener - D) Planning and zoning: housing density – MBI Supports w/ Coalition Letter
- Would authorize a local government to pass an ordinance to zone any parcel for up to 10 units of residential density per parcel, at a height specified in the ordinance, if the parcel is located in a so-called “ transit-rich area,” a “jobs-rich area,” or an “urban infill site.”
- Would require the Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD), in consultation with the Office of Planning and Research, to determine jobs-rich areas and publish a map of those areas every 5 years, commencing January 1, 2023.
SB 477 (Wiener - D) General plan: annual report – MBI Supports w/ Coalition Letter
California currently lacks statewide data to support efforts of ensuring local governments are complying with existing mandates to build needed housing under the Regional Housing Needs Assessments (RHNA).
The bill would resolve this data gap by requiring more information on California’s existing Annual Progress Report, which local governments must send to the state to demonstrate their progress toward meeting their RHNA.
- Would require local governments to provide HCD with critical data needed to evaluate the impact of state laws on housing stock, which will allow the Legislature to tell when and where several existing housing mandates are effective, and then force local governments to meeting their RHNA goals.
SB 478 (Wiener) – Floor area ratio: housing developments - MBI Supports w/ Coalition Letter
- Existing housing element law allows local governments to set regulations on housing that can prohibit or stymie housing production using regulations such as floor area ratios and minimum lot sizes.
- These regulations essentially act as de facto housing prohibitions since they regulate density and describe the smallest lot that can legally be created within a local jurisdiction, thereby acting as a backdoor way to invalidate multi-family zoning that allows ADUs, duplexes, and small multi-unit buildings.
- SB 478 will establish guardrails for floor area ratios regulations and minimum lot size regulations, putting guardrails on local governments’ ability to enact hyper restrictive regulations and prevent abuse against very restrictive standards that increase housing costs.
AB 1401 (Friedman) Development projects: parking requirements – MBI Supports w/ Coalition Letter
- Many cities in California require new residential or commercial development to provide on-site parking spaces. Often, apartments must include one or two parking spots per unit, and commercial properties must provide one space for every 100-200 square feet (frequently causing more space to be provided for parking than for the business itself).
- The bill would prohibit a local government from imposing or enforcing a minimum parking requirement on developments located near public transit or within a low vehicle miles traveled area. This measure would reduce car dependence, lower carbon emissions, and encourage more housing production near transit.
The MBI government affairs team will continue to provide updates and breaking news as new information is received on these key issues.
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