Will California’s New Housing Laws Really Help Oakland’s Affordablity Problem?

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On September 29th, California Governor Jerry Brown put pen to the paper of what he called “15 good bills” designed to respond to the state’s affordable housing crisis. But will they really help Oakland’s affordability problem? They are as follows according to the press release from the Governor’s Office:

SB 2 (Atkins), the Building Homes and Jobs Act, establishes a permanent funding source for affordable housing through a $75 fee on real estate transaction documents. The fee is capped at $225 per transaction and exempts real estate sales. The fees would generate roughly $250 million a year, which would be split among state and local housing programs.

“We know what solves homelessness: homes,” said Senator Toni Atkins (D-San Diego). “SB 2 will provide an ongoing infusion of funding that communities all over California need to build affordable housing, so they can help bring people off the streets and into safe homes with supportive services. It will also help provide housing for seniors on low, fixed incomes and struggling families. California’s housing crisis is causing pervasive instability for individuals, families and communities. It will take continued hard work to solve the crisis, but our comprehensive, multifaceted package of housing bills is a good start toward restoring stability. I thank my colleagues who have contributed their great ideas, and I thank Governor Brown and our legislative leadership for making housing a top priority in 2017.”

SB 3 (Beall) authorizes $4 billion in general obligation bonds for affordable housing programs and a veteran’s home ownership program. SB 3 must be approved by voters next November.

“Senate Bill 3 gives California the opportunity to build $15 billion in much-needed affordable housing for working families, seniors, vets, and the homeless,” said Senator Jim Beall (D-San Jose). “Together, SB 3 and the housing bills signed today represent a historic step to expand a limited housing supply and counterbalance the skyrocketing market that threatens our future and economy. More Californians will be able to live in the community where they work and spend less time on congested roads.”

SB 35 (Wiener) streamlines the approval process for infill developments in local communities that have failed to meet their regional housing needs.

“California just took a huge step forward to address our housing crisis – a crisis that is tearing our communities apart, undermining our environment and economy, and making it harder for families to succeed,” said Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco). “No one should be living on our streets, be forced into three or four hour commutes, or have to leave their community as their family grows because they just can’t afford housing. These bills to streamline housing creation and fund new affordable housing construction won’t solve California’s entire housing problem – that will take years of hard work given how deep this crisis is – but today we are establishing a strong foundation for future housing efforts.”

SB 166 (Skinner) ensures that cities maintain an ongoing supply of housing construction sites for residents of various income levels.

SB 167 (Skinner) increases the standard of proof required for a local government to justify a denial of low- and moderate-income housing development projects. (SB 167 is identical to AB 678.)

“Our housing permit process should not be a shell game,” said Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley). “My bills, SB 166 and 167, tackle the ‘Not in My Backyard’ obstacles that too often keep needed housing from being built.”

SB 540 (Roth) streamlines the environmental review process for certain local affordable housing projects.

“Access to housing is a basic human need,” said Senator Richard D. Roth (D-Riverside). “That’s why I am proud to have authored SB 540, which will incentivize and streamline housing construction to meet our state’s dire housing shortage. California is home to one of the most expensive housing markets in the nation, with many folks unable to afford to rent or own a home. SB 540 is a commonsense measure that will remove the barriers to housing construction in the areas most in need, helping ensure this crisis does not continue to grow and families do not continue to struggle”

AB 72 (Santiago/Chiu) strengthens the state’s ability to enforce laws that require local governments to achieve housing goals.

“Housing should not be for the privileged few who can afford a place to live,” said Assemblymember Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles). “Housing should be a right ensuring that any person who tries hard, works hard, and plays by the rules has the ability to sleep with a roof over their head. I’m thrilled that the Governor agrees with my legislative colleagues and I on this issue and I thank him for his leadership during California’s current housing emergency.”

AB 73 (Chiu) gives local governments incentives to create housing on infill sites near public transportation.

“California is a large and diverse state, but one thing we all share is that we’re living through the worst housing crisis in our state’s history,” said Assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco). “With this historic package of bills, we begin to take on the affordable housing crisis that threatens our state’s economic prosperity, deepens inequality, and increases homelessness. My deep thanks goes to Speaker Anthony Rendon for making housing a top priority, and to my Assembly and Senate colleagues for their tireless partnership. I also appreciate the engaged leadership of Governor Brown and his incredible team. Our work is not done, but we’re making a down payment for our children’s future, for people struggling to pay the rent or the mortgage or even to have a roof at all, and for our teachers, firefighters and other workers who can’t afford a home in the cities they serve.”

AB 571 (E. Garcia) makes it easier to develop farmworker housing by easing qualifications for the Farmworker Housing Tax Credit.

“I truly want to commend Governor Brown, Speaker Rendon and Chairman Chiu for leading the charge to address our state’s severe housing crisis,” said Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella). “I was proud to support this comprehensive package of bills, anchored around SB 2 and SB 3, which established a funding mechanism for these critical measures, and play my part advocating on behalf of rural Californian communities, like those in my district that have been historically underserved. AB 571 eases eligibility requirements for a state tax credit for developers to build migrant housing. Farmworker labor fuels our economies, yet these areas lack the necessary investments to spur growth and prosperity. These modifications to the Farmworker Housing Assistance Tax Credit Program, along with other programs established within this historic bill package, will help ensure the essential right to safe, affordable housing for more of our hard working families and veterans across California.”

AB 678 (Bocanegra) increases the standard of proof required for a local government to justify its denial of low- to moderate-income housing development projects. (AB 678 is identical to SB 167.)

“California is in the midst of an unprecedented housing crisis caused by a severe lack of inventory and new housing construction,” said Assemblymember Raul Bocanegra (D-Pacoima). “I’m proud to have worked with many of my colleagues in the Legislature as well as with Governor Brown to help create more housing and make owning or renting in California more affordable by providing greater certainty during the project approval process at the local level.”

AB 879 (Grayson) authorizes a study of local fees charged to new residential developments that will also include a proposal to substantially reduce such fees.

“This has been a long time coming, and after a decade of falling behind 100,000 housing units a year we finally exercised the fortitude to move California forward,” said Assemblymember Tim Grayson (D-Concord). “Though this package is not a fix all – it contains the first steps in the right direction. I want to thank leadership and the Governor for their work and vision on this issue.”

AB 1397 (Low) makes changes to the definition of land suitable for residential development to increase the number of sites where new multifamily housing can be built.

“No one should be denied a place to call home,” said Assemblymember Evan Low (D-Campbell). “This housing package will help make our Golden State shine bright again.”

AB 1505 (Bloom/Bradford/Chiu/Gloria) authorizes cities and counties to adopt an inclusionary ordinance for residential rental units in order to create affordable housing.

“The skyrocketing cost of housing is forcing millions of Californians to make stressful financial decisions every month just to keep the eviction notice off their front door,” said Assemblymember Richard H. Bloom (D-Santa Monica). “Our housing problem is real and devastating to families, seniors, and young adults in communities throughout this state. Today’s signing of AB 1505 ensures that real affordable housing is built so our teachers, grocery clerks, car mechanics, and retired seniors – those who we interact with every day and who make up the fabric of our communities – can also afford to live in our communities.”

“People shouldn’t have to the leave the state in order to find affordable housing or achieve the American dream of home ownership,” said Senator Steven Bradford (D-Gardena.)

“Skyrocketing housing costs have squeezed California’s working and middle class for too long,” said Assemblymember Todd Gloria (D-San Diego). “I am proud to join the Governor and my fellow legislators to pass a historic package of bills that makes specific and tangible progress to give some relief to those struggling to pay their rents and mortgages. We have more work to do on housing affordability and I look forward to building on this year’s achievements in the months ahead. Our goal must remain a roof over the head of every Californian at a price they can afford.”

AB 1515 (Daly) allows housing projects to be afforded the protections of the Housing Accountability Act if the project is consistent with local planning rules despite local opposition.

“The Housing Accountability Act fosters and respects responsible local control by providing certainty to all stakeholders in the local approval process, and preventing NIMBYism from pressuring local officials into rejecting or downsizing compliant housing projects,” said Assemblymember Tom F. Daly (D-Anaheim). “AB 1515 strengthens the provisions of the HAA and provides courts with clear standards for interpreting the HAA in favor of building housing.”

AB 1521 (Bloom/Chiu) gives experienced housing organizations a first right of refusal to purchase affordable housing developments in order to keep the units affordable.

For full text of the bills, visit: http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov.

“These new laws will help cut red tape and encourage more and affordable housing, including shelter for the growing number of homeless in California,” said Governor Brown.

No one should have to work three full-time jobs just to provide a home for their family,” said Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de Leïn. “This bipartisan package by the legislature marks an historic step towards our goal of ensuring that every Californian has a place to call home.”

But in Oakland’s case, will the bills work? Prior to 2012, Oakland benefited from the use of California Redevelopment Law, and what became a robust affordable housing funding effort that saw $111 million Oakland had for use in 2011.

But then, the same Governor Brown who now is trying to alter the climate to cause more affordable housing to be made, took away the industry’s best tool in 2011. That was the year Brown had completed a full-attack on the California Redevelopment Law System, and with the idea that doing away with the CRL would save the state $1 billion. What it did was take away a giant engine of funding for affordable housing, especially for Oakland.

Prior to Brown’s action, and the California Supreme Court’s ratification of it, CRL was such that 20 percent of redevelopment tax increment revenue was set aside for use in the development of affordable housing. By 2011, Oakland had an affordable housing fund that was at $111 million; now, the Oakland City Council has bragged about having just over $50 million for the same purposed – under half what was there, when more is needed.

The question is will this new set of laws really solve Oakland’s and California’s affordable housing problem? Stay tuned for more on this.

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