With only weeks to go in the 2017 legislative session, today the League of California Cities®
reiterated its support for a balanced package of legislation that will streamline housing approvals and construction and to increase funding for affordable housing.
Since the abolishment of redevelopment, local governments and the state have lost a key source of funding for affordable housing which need subsidies to be viable. The League strongly encourages the Legislature to maximize affordable housing funding, which could include acting on State Treasurer John Chiang’s call to go “big and bold” and pass a $6 to $9 billion housing bond.
At the same time, the League is urging amendments to one of the primary housing reform proposals — Senate Bill 35 (Wiener) — to ensure the bill is appropriately targeted and avoids unjustly penalizing many pro-housing cities in state in compliance with state housing laws.
“The housing affordability crisis is one of the greatest challenges facing working families and communities across the state,” said Carolyn Coleman, executive director of the League of California Cities
. “Local governments recognize the important role we play in planning for and approving new housing, and we are actively engaged to help shape and pass state legislation that will streamline housing approvals and boost construction.”
The League is supporting the following bills:
- Senate Bill 540 (Roth), the Workforce Housing Opportunity Zone, will create a more streamlined path for housing approvals and construction. Cities and counties would identify priority housing areas near jobs and transit, and conduct enhanced planning, environmental reviews and public engagement at the front end. This would eliminate the requirement for a project-by-project environmental review and shave an estimated one to two years off the development timeline.
- Senate Bill 2 (Atkins), the Building Homes and Jobs Act, would generate hundreds of millions of dollars each year for affordable housing, emergency shelters and other housing needs via a $75 recording fee on specified real estate documents.
- Senate Bill 3 (Beall), the Affordable Housing Bond Act of 2018, would put a $3 billion general obligation bond on the November 2018 ballot to fund affordable housing and infill infrastructure projects.
To protect pro-housing communities, the League has asked that Senate Bill 35 be amended to provide a safe harbor for cities that are approving housing and meeting strict state housing laws.
“We believe we can take steps to streamline the housing approval process without eroding local input or important environmental safeguards,” concluded Coleman
. “We also look forward to working with the Legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown to adopt a robust affordable housing funding package that reflects the magnitude of the problem.”
Established in 1898, the League of California Cities is a nonprofit statewide association that advocates for cities with the state and federal governments and provides education and training services to elected and appointed city officials.