Residential Housing in Community College Districts
AB 358: Community college districts: student housing
As California continues to face a severe housing crisis, especially on college campuses, the California State Legislature has looked at different solutions to increase housing production on college campuses. This year, the legislature passed a bill that further exempts some residential housing from bureaucratic red tape by granting community colleges the ability to skip permitting from the Department of General Services (DGS) for residential student housing and instead task local governments with the permit review and approval of new residential housing in a community college district. In the second installment of the Guide to Changes in State Law, we cover one bill that was passed and signed into law earlier this spring. AB 358 by Assemblymember Addis allows a local community college district to choose to avoid DGS approval and instead put the burden on local building departments. Although the bill does not require local community colleges to do this, it does grant them the option to go to the authority having jurisdiction instead which may result in confusion and complications on the ground.
As CALBO members know, previously student housing on college campuses has fallen to state agencies such as the Division of the State Architect (DSA) and the Office of the State Fire Marshal (OSFM), however with the new law, more building departments will be required to review residential housing on community college campuses if that is what the local community college district decides to do. As a result, CALBO members need to be aware of the new changes to state law, which will begin in January 2024. CALBO is actively working on a solution to provide some type of guidance for local building departments to comply with the law. One initial approach to the new law may include having the local building department refer the permit back to DSA or OFSM to further review the health and safety implications for new residential housing in a community college district.
According to the bill, the definition of residential housing means “any building used as a personal residence by a teacher or employee of a community college district, with the teacher’s or employee’s family, and any building used as a residence for students attending a campus of a community college district.” This definition has wide arching implications for local building departments and will further require some increases in local workload if your jurisdiction is in a community college district and this is the route that the respective district wants to go while trying to increase local housing development on campus.
CALBO is actively working with our state agency partners to look at best practices to implement AB 358 and is hoping to provide more guidance or training as the law begins in early 2024. If your jurisdiction has experience with some of these issues, please feel free to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org so we can understand how implementation is occurring locally and provide some best practices your jurisdiction is using to address the necessary health and safety regulations for residential housing on community college campuses.