Bill targets California's housing crisis

September 3, 2002

Legislation aims to revamp state's construction dispute laws, reduce frivolous lawsuits

Inman News Features

The Senate Saturday passed and sent to the Governor legislation that aims to overhaul the state's construction dispute laws and pave the way for increased production of affordable condominiums and townhouses.

The bill outlines specific expectations on how new homes will be constructed, gives builders the right to fix any problems that develop before lawsuits can be filed and protects homeowners by giving them recourse in the event problems aren't addressed.

By establishing these guidelines and by reducing the amount of frivolous lawsuits, the bill should serve to increase the availability and affordability of insurance to build condominiums and townhomes and increase the stock of new housing affordable to first-time homebuyers, said California Building Industry Association President Mick Pattinson.

"For more than a decade, it's been all but certain that home builders and subcontractors involved in the construction of condominiums and townhomes would be sued," Pattinson said. "As a result, insurance companies have taken a 'leave of absence' when it comes to providing coverage for condo and townhome construction, sending production plummeting—down 84 percent in the past seven years."

The language in SB 800, which was introduced by Sen. President Pro Tem John Burton, (D-San Francisco) and Assembly Speaker Herb Wesson, (D-Culver City, Calif.), was finalized this week after months of negotiations between the CBIA, trial lawyers and legislative leaders, who all agreed that the state's growing housing affordability crisis would never be solved unless builders could resume widespread production of land-efficient and affordable condominium housing. For most of the past decade, state officials say home builders have built nearly 100,000 units a year fewer than needed to meet the state's growing population.

The Senate passed the bill on a vote of 33-0 and the Assembly passed the bill on Thursday by a vote of 74-0.

"SB 800 protects both homeowners and home builders, and is one of the most significant housing reforms to make it through the Legislature in many years," Pattinson said. "I know my fellow builders and I are eager to roll up our sleeves and build more housing for the people of California."

The California Building Industry Association is a statewide trade association representing nearly 6,000 businesses, including home builders, remodelers, subcontractors, architects, engineers, designers, and other industry associates.

Copyright: Inman News Service

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