Newsom Signs Bill Exempting College Housing From CEQA

The Governor signed legislation Wednesday that aims to speed up housing construction on college campuses in California.

SB 886 (Wiener) exempts student housing projects on UC, CSU or community college campuses from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). That’s important, as CEQA has long been blamed for stalling housing projects and contributing to the ongoing affordable housing crisis.

Earlier this year, CEQA was used to freeze UC Berkeley’s student enrollment at 2021-22 levels. Stand-alone legislation was passed to address the issue at UC Berkeley. But the controversy drove momentum for broader CEQA reform.

The lack of affordable housing for college students is a pressing problem. A report from the California Assembly found that around 5% of UC students, 10% of California State University students, and 20% of California community college students were homeless at some point during the school year.