First Wave of Reforms to Address Housing Affordability Crisis Pass Key Vote

Friday, September 15, 2017

Bills are part of a larger package of reforms championed by a coalition of legislators

 

SACRAMENTO – Tonight, six bills aimed at addressing California’s affordable housing crisis, passed the Assembly floor.  The bills, part of a larger package of reforms to reduce the cost of housing authored by a coalition of legislators in both chambers of the Legislature, would provide significant funding and improve zoning and permitting laws to expedite affordable housing construction.

 

“People who we interact with every day and make up the fabric of our community – our teachers, grocery store clerks, car mechanics, and nurses – are all being priced out of the their homes.  The problem is staring us in the face and we cannot look the other way,” said Assembly Member Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica) and one of the leaders of the coalition of legislators. “Today’s actions will help us address the issue.  These bills build up funding for affordable housing construction that has been absent for years and they begin to tear down the barriers that have prevented projects from breaking ground.”

 

According to a report by the McKinsey Global Institute virtually none of California's moderate income, low income and very-low income households can afford the cost of their housing.  California ranks forty-ninth in the nation for housing units per capita and is short by about two million units.  The Census Bureau recently revealed that about 20 percent of Californians live in poverty, more than any other state despite California having the sixth largest economy in the world.  A leading cause of our high poverty rate is the continuous rise in housing costs and the lack of available housing.

 

Data revealed by the California Housing Consortium (a non-partisan advocate for the production and preservation of housing affordable to low- and moderate-income Californians) reveals that California has a shortfall of 1.7 million units for extremely low and very-low income renter households and 84 percent of renters spend more than one-third of their income on housing.  California houses 20% of the nation’s homeless and homeless counts have risen dramatically this year. 

 

More alarming, the California Department of Housing and Community Development reports that 80% of extremely low-income residents and 30% of all renters spend more than 50% of their income on housing far out-pacing every other state in the nation.

 

Despite the troubling numbers, California has reduced funding for affordable housing by 69 percent since 2008 and little has been done to untangle the overwhelming clutter of zoning and permitting laws. 

 

 

 

The first wave of bills seeks to provide some redress to this growing crisis.  The bills include:

 

  • SB 2 by Senator Toni Atkins (D-San Diego).  This bill creates the Building Homes and Jobs Act and establishes $75 fee on real estate transaction documents to generate approximately $250 million per year to serve as a permanent funding to increase the supply of affordable housing. 

 

  • SB 3 by Senator Jim Beall (D-San Jose). Enacts the Veterans and Affordable Housing Bond Act of 2018 and authorizes the issuance of $4 billion in general obligation (GO) bonds for affordable housing of which $1 billion will be used exclusively for veteran housing, subject to approval by the voters, in the November 6, 2018 election. 

 

  • SB 35 by Senator Scott Weiner (D-San Francisco).  Creates a streamlined process for multi-family housing projects if the development meets specified requirements and the local government in which the development is located has not produced enough housing units to meet its state mandated regional housing needs assessment (RHNA). 

 

  • SB 166 by Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley).  Makes sure local governments designate the sites needed, including identifying replacement sites for parcels that were initially designated for housing, but instead were permitted for another use so that housing can be built more expeditiously. 

 

  • SB 167 by Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley).  Strengthens the Housing Accountability Act (HAA) to help limit the denial or delay of good housing projects that otherwise meet all local laws.  This bill will combat burdensome conditions sometimes adopted by local governments to meet the demands of small but vocal groups of residents that oppose affordable housing developments. 

 

  • SB 540 by Senator Richard Roth (D-Riverside).  Streamlines local housing approval processes by requiring local governments to identify where affordable housing needs to be built and adopting an up-front specific plan, including conducting all necessary and important environmental reviews and public engagement.  Because local governments would not be able to deny a development that satisfies the criteria of the specific plan and environmental document, housing construction would be expedited. 

 

Assemblymember Bloom has been a long-time champion for affordable housing dating back to his time as a councilmember and mayor for the City of Santa Monica.  Last year he authored AB 2299 which eased restrictions and created statewide uniformity for accessory dwelling units (ADUs), also known as “granny flats,” which has been instrumental in spurring the development of additional affordable housing units across the state.  This year, along with Assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco) and Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Alameda), he has led a coalition of legislators and negotiated a package of fifteen bills with Governor to address California’s affordable housing crisis. 

 

Richard Bloom represents California’s 50th Assembly District, which comprises the communities of Agoura Hills, Bel Air, Beverly Hills, Brentwood, Hollywood, Malibu, Pacific Palisades, Santa Monica, Topanga, West Hollywood, and West Los Angeles.