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South Berkeley Community Church. Image: Sanfranman59 (CC-BY-SA-2.0)

South Berkeley Community Church. Image: Sanfranman59 (CC-BY-SA-2.0)

A new study from the University of California, Berkeley’s Terner Center for Housing Innovation has uncovered over 171,749 acres of developable land owned by nonprofit colleges or faith-based organizations in the state, bolstering the aims of the “Yes in God’s Backyard” movement as it pushes Governor Gavin Newsom to sign SB 4 by the end of next month.

The bill passed the state senate along with the related SB 423 on Monday. If signed into law, it would streamline the process by which churches and other nonprofit organizations can enact housing at sites that previously had been limited by local land use restrictions and the California Environmental Quality Act (or CEQA).

Supporters of the measure have said it will help increase housing in much-needed communities where displacement and homelessness have become the norm as rising expenses and pushback on the part of local municipalities in the wake of SB 9 threaten to derail efforts statewide. 

Previously on Archinect: Plan to let churches, hospitals, and other nonprofit groups develop affordable housing more easily takes shape in California

The study found that more than half of the land totaled was located in higher opportunity areas, with another 13% located within short distance of high-quality mass transit options. San Diego, where originators of the now nationwide YIGBY movement are hoping to create 3,000 units by 2025, has a total of 4,000 acres of potentially developable land, right behind Los Angeles and San Bernadino. Authors say the total area covered is five times the size of Oakland, adding that technical workshops similar to the one offered recently at the University of Washington could help organizations in tackling the lengthy predevelopment process, which remains indelible. 

“Focused support is critical for building capacity and knowledge for organizations who are interested in pursuing housing on their property, but lack the resources, networks, and experience to do so alone,” the report’s text added.

Recommendations for supporting additional development opportunities are also included. The research adds to the Terner Center’s previously reported findings on the impact of SB 35 after five years of implementation. The full findings of the 16-page report can be accessed here.