CSAC Bulletin Article

CSAC Weighs in on Potential Housing Deal Bills

August 3, 2017

Legislative leaders and the Governor announced on July 17 their plan to pass a package of bills to address California’s housing crisis when the Legislature returns from its month-long summer recess August 21. According to a statement from Governor Brown, Speaker Rendon and President pro Tem de León, “the package of legislation… will include a general obligation bond, a permanent funding source for affordable housing and regulatory reform.”

Counties will recall that legislators in the Assembly had pushed for a housing deal as part of negotiations on the extension of the state’s cap and trade program. Despite a delay in floor votes on cap and trade to “allow [the Legislature’s] discussion on long-term housing affordability solutions in California to catch up to the climate effort,” a housing package was not finalized along with cap and trade prior to summer recess.

The leading housing funding proposals that appear to be under consideration are Senator Beall’s SB 3, a $3 billion affordable housing bond, and Senator Atkins’ SB 2, a recording fee that would generate about $200 million annually for affordable housing development and local planning. Both bills are supported by CSAC. The combination of ongoing and one-time funding for housing, as well as dedicated funding for local plans that support housing development are welcomed by counties, but other bills that are apparently included in the package are a mixed bag for local governments.

A few bills, including AB 1505 (Bloom), SB 277 (Bradford) and AB 1568 (Bloom), will give local governments new tools to promote housing development and affordability. CSAC, along with our local government partners from RCRC, UCC, the American Planning Association and the League of California Cities have expressed concerns, however, that several bills under consideration will merely increase the cost and complexity of the housing element process. Many of these proposals prioritize paperwork and reporting while doing little to promote actual development or to address the infrastructure deficiencies, cost pressures, and limited availability of subsidy for below-market-rate housing developments that contribute to California’s affordability crisis. A summary of our comments and positions on each of the bills rumored to be included in the package is available here.

Several bills for which CSAC was close to removing its opposition were amended in mid-July, apparently to address concerns from the Administration. Some of these changes, all which occurred after bills had proceeded through the normal policy committee process, drastically change the impact of the bills. For instance, SB 35 (Wiener), which requires cities and counties to offer developers a non-discretionary approval process if a jurisdiction has not “met” its Regional Housing Needs Allocation for a particular income category, now applies broadly to projects in the unincorporated area.

While CSAC and our partners will continue to pursue amendments on several bills that appear to be included in the package, there may be limited opportunity for amendments prior to expected votes the week of August 21. CSAC staff will keep you informed as we learn more about these developments. Please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions or concerns.

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