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Two Bills Could Expand Adaptive Reuse Possibilities

state legislative priorities

Downtown Assemblymember Miguel Santiago has proposed two bills, Assembly Bill 2909 and Assembly Bill 2910, to make adaptive reuse projects easier. 

With the changing nature of work post-pandemic, there is a need for building owners to have greater flexibility with the use of their buildings. Office utilization has changed at the same time our state is experiencing a housing crisis.  

What You Need to Know  

These bills would make it easier to convert empty office buildings into homes and provide building owners flexibility in a changing market.  

Assembly Bill 2909 expands the Mills Act and would simplify the conversion of buildings used for businesses into homes.

If it's approved, from January 1, 2026, buildings over 30 years old in business areas can qualify for conversion into rental homes. The owners would receive a property tax abatement, which would be used to pay for the conversion.   

Assembly Bill 2910 would allow pro-housing areas with compliant Housing Elements to create alternative code rules for older buildings to reduce the burden of retrofitting adapted buildings that are still safe.

These rules would help change old stores or factories into homes more quickly. But first, the California Building Standards Commission must ensure these rules keep people safe and healthy. 

Currently, adaptive reuse projects are difficult to pencil out with high retrofit costs and narrow margins.

These bills could reduce some of those burdens and make these projects more attractive.

How it Impacts You

The COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped the way we work, leading to a decline in traditional office-based setups and a rise in remote or hybrid arrangements.   

These bills have the potential to give building owners greater flexibility with their properties to adapt to the changing nature of work and what the market demands.  

Ultimately, the success of these bills will depend on the alternative codes developed locally. And the proper implementation of the Mills Act amendment.

Ultimately, greater flexibility for building owners is generally a welcome policy development. And in a time of market uncertainty, we need all the flexibility we can get.

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