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Assemblymember Wicks’ Bill to Allow Faith Communities to Help Alleviate the Housing Crisis

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Assemblymember Buffy Wicks (D-Oakland) introduced a bill last week that would allow communities of faith to help alleviate the housing crisis. The bill, AB 1851, would pave the way for affordable housing by eliminating minimum parking requirements for units built on underused church parking lots.

“Faith-based communities have long been expressing interest in redeveloping portions of their property to assist with the state’s housing crisis,” said Assemblymember Wicks. “This bill would remove roadblocks for them to do so.”

This new initiative is called “Yes in God’s Backyard,” or YIGBY — a play on the “YIMBY” or “yes in my backyard” movement. Cities across the East Bay, including Oakland, are convening meetings to discuss turning underused church property into housing.

Originating in San Diego, this idea became popular when a local tax collector compiled a list of more than 1,100 properties zoned for religious use that could potentially be developed into new units. The San Diego City Council made the move in December to allow faith-based communities to build affordable housing in their parking lots. The action lifted the city code to maintain a number of parking spaces for the purpose of assembly and cleared the way for housing.

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