Owner/Client:      California Department of Housing and Community Development

Ascent, in partnership with PlaceWorks, was selected by the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) to help oversee the Senate Bill [SB] 2 Planning Grants Technical Assistance Program. Through this program, Ascent is providing technical assistance to local governments in California to help cities and counties prepare, adopt, and implement plans and process improvements that streamline housing approvals and accelerate housing production. Ascent is serving as an extension of HCD staff during this grant application process, with Ascent team members assigned as Regional Liaisons to the Sacramento, Sierra Nevada, and San Diego regions. As Regional Liaisons, team members conducted outreach and provided guidance to cities and counties about SB 2–eligible activities and reviewed and gave feedback on draft applications.

Ascent is also working to render ongoing technical assistance through the implementation stage of the program. Ascent is developing several tools to aid in implementation, including coordinating with the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research on model ordinances, a guidebook on affirmatively furthering fair housing, and California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) streamlining tools. As part of this effort, the Ascent team has developed preliminary guidance for objective design standards through an Objective Design Standards toolkit, which includes guidance on housing policy and design and development best practices.