Assemblymember Miguel Santiago (File photo)

A bill that would expand CEQA exemptions for certain supportive housing projects crossed a significant hurdle in the California Senate this week, earning unanimous support in the Environmental Quality Committee. AB 1197, authored by Assemblymember Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles), would ensure that state and local funding to build temporary and supportive housing projects can be spent more quickly and efficiently in the city of LA.

My district is home to the largest population of Californians experiencing homelessness in the entire state,” Santiago said. “We cannot solve this humanitarian crisis if the funding approved by voters and the legislature goes unspent. AB 1197 will free up our city to finally break ground on these critical housing projects.”

Los Angeles City Councilmember Mike Bonin, who represents the 11th Council District, added, “Our homelessness crisis has the same impact as a natural disaster, and it demands the same level of urgent response. I applaud Assemblyman Santiago for smart and necessary legislation that will help Los Angeles expedite the housing and shelter we need to get people off the streets.”

The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) has been weaponized by various groups to fight the construction of badly needed shelters, temporary housing, and supportive housing units. Their attacks can delay housing projects for a year or longer, compounding the crisis of homelessness in Los Angeles and beyond.

AB 1197 expands the current CEQA exemption, until January 1, 2025, for permanent supportive housing projects that are approved or carried out by the City of Los Angeles and funded by Measure HHH and HEAP dollars.

The bill now heads to a vote in the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Assemblymember Miguel Santiago is the Chair of the Assembly’s Communications and Conveyance Committee, and a member of both the Assembly Public Safety Committee and the California Latino Legislative Caucus. He represents the 53rd District composed of the cities of Los Angeles, Huntington Park, and Vernon.