Quantifying the Potential of California’s ‘Yes in God’s Backyard’ Bill

A new report estimates that 171,000 acres of land would be available for housing development if California approves SB 4, Affordable Housing on Faith and Higher Education Lands Act of 2023.

2 minute read

August 31, 2023, 9:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

A new report [pdf] from the Terner Center for Housing Innovation at the University of California, Berkeley estimates the housing potential for land owned by faith-based institutions if the state of California were to approve Senate Bill 4, the “Affordable Housing on Faith and Higher Education Lands Act of 2023,” under consideration in the state legislature.

SB 4, authored by State Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) would “provide a streamlined approval process and baseline development standards for affordable housing on properties owned by FBO and nonprofit colleges,” according to a description of the law provided in an article by David Garcia, Quinn Underriner, Muhammad Alameldin, and Issi Romem that shares insight into report.

As for the findings of the study, the authors explain: “In the paper, we find that these organizations own a significant amount of land that would be eligible for SB 4 incentives, and that could be used for affordable housing. Specifically, we identified over 171,000 potentially developable acres statewide owned by FBOs or nonprofit colleges, which is nearly five times the size of the city of Oakland.”

The report also provides recommendations for additional opportunities to encourage development on land owned by faith-based organizations.

The “Yes In God’s Backyard” movement has gained momentum in recent years with laws like SB 4 and efforts by churches to overcome local opposition to deliver affordable housing. Planetizen first shared news of California’s SB 4 in December 2022.

Wednesday, August 30, 2023 in Terner Center for Housing Innovation

An aerial view of Milwaukee’s Third Ward.

Plan to Potentially Remove Downtown Milwaukee’s Interstate Faces Public Scrutiny

The public is weighing in on a suite of options for repairing, replacing, or removing Interstate 794 in downtown Milwaukee.

August 27, 2023 - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Portland Bus Lane

‘Forward Together’ Bus System Redesign Rolling Out in Portland

Portland is redesigning its bus system to respond to the changing patterns of the post-pandemic world—with twin goals of increasing ridership and improving equity.

August 30, 2023 - Mass Transit

Conceptual rendering of Rikers Island redevelopment as renewable energy facility

Can New York City Go Green Without Renewable Rikers?

New York City’s bold proposal to close the jail on Rikers Island and replace it with green infrastructure is in jeopardy. Will this compromise the city’s ambitious climate goals?

August 24, 2023 - Mark McNulty

A rendering of the Utah City master planned, mixed-use development.

700-Acre Master-Planned Community Planned in Utah

A massive development plan is taking shape for lakefront property in Vineyard, Utah—on the site of a former U.S. Steel Geneva Works facility.

7 hours ago - Daily Herald

A line of cars wait at the drive-thru window of a starbucks.

More Cities Ponder the End of Drive-Thrus

Drive-thru fast food restaurants might be a staple of American life, but several U.S. cities are actively considering prohibiting the development of new drive-thrus for the benefit of traffic safety, air quality, and congestion.

August 31 - The Denver Post

Air pollution is visible in the air around high-rise buildings in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Air Pollution World’s Worst Public Health Threat, Report Says

Air pollution is more likely to take years life off the lifespan of the average human than any other external factor, according to a recent report out of the University of Chicago.

August 31 - Phys.org