A new state law with roots in Long Beach should help add transitional housing for people suffering from homelessness.

The bill, SB450, was authored by freshman state Sen. Tom Umberg (D-34th District), who represents part of Long Beach and northern Orange County. The city of Long Beach was an early supporter of the bill, which exempts motel conversions from compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), and became a cosponsor.

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the bill this week. It requires motel conversions to include supportive services such as case management, health care and substance abuse treatment either offsite or onsite in order to get the CEQA waiver.

“The state’s housing crisis requires creative land use approaches, and SB 450 provides an efficient framework to convert motel units into supportive and transitional housing units,” Mayor Robert Garcia said in a release.

Dropping the CEQA requirement to complete environmental impact studies or justify a negative declaration saying such studies aren't needed could save developers anywhere from $100,000 to $1 million. It also will expedite conversions.

“California is one step closer to seeing neighborhood improvements thanks to SB 450,” Umberg said. “This bill introduces an efficient mechanism to incentivize developers to prioritize transitional housing for vulnerable populations. We must support these life-changing efforts for those in need.”

The bill sunsets on Jan. 1, 2025, meaning it is automatically repealed unless other action is taken.

—Harry Saltzgaver

Harry has been executive editor of Gazette Newspapers for more than 26 years. He has been in the newspaper business for more than 35 years, with experience on both weekly and metropolitan daily papers in Colorado and California.

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