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Yes In God's Back Yard: State Senate Approves Allowing Affordable Housing On Church Lots

SACRAMENTO (CBS SF) – A bill that would spur the development of affordable housing on church parking lots and other property owned by houses of worship has passed the State Senate.

Senate Bill 899 by State Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) cleared the chamber in a unanimous 39-0 vote on Thursday. The bill allows for religious institutions and nonprofit colleges to bypass local zoning restrictions to build 100 percent affordable housing on their land.

"CA has a huge shortage of housing affordable to low income people. SB 899 will help meet this need," the senator, who has authored numerous bills on housing, said in a tweet.

Under SB899, housing built under this proposal would be restricted to lower income households if rented for 55 years or owner-occupied for 45 years. Developments can be in residential, mixed-use or commercial areas and must be on a site that is one quarter acre in size or greater.

Typically filled with cars for only a few hours each week, housing on church parking lots could place a dent in state's massive housing shortage, estimated at 3.5 million units.

KPIX 5 reported earlier this year that San Francisco's Planning Department identified 800 properties in the city owned by religious organizations that are underutilized and could be developed for affordable housing.

Senate Bill 899 now goes to the Assembly for consideration.

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