Gov. Jerry Brown and the state legislature agreed on a budget that also moves forward the governor’s plan announced in May to speed up approvals of new housing developments if they include a certain amount of affordable housing (see “Gov. Brown’s hail Mary,” Marina Times, June 2016). In return for advancing the plan, which is expected to receive a vote in August, Brown included an extra $400 million in the budget to be spent on affordable housing.
Meanwhile, opponents and supporters of the plan have been gearing up for a fight. Dozens of housing advocates have urged state leaders to drop the bill. The Alliance for Community Transit–Los Angeles, a coalition of 31 Southern California organizations, wrote a letter to Brown warning that the proposal would undercut affordable housing programs, environmental goals, and transportation policies. “Generally, this proposal takes away communities’ ability to provide their input on development projects in exchange for extremely low amounts of affordable housing,” the coalition complained. “Requiring less affordable housing than the state density bonus law and existing or proposed local ‘value capture’ policies require may in fact undermine these key tools for attaining critically needed affordable housing.”
The governor’s mailbox also included a letter from Bay Area Council, a group of business leaders who expressed support for the plan. “This idea respects local control and community values while cutting the ‘excess process’ that creates lots of controversy but too little housing too late at too high a price,” the council wrote, adding that businesses find it difficult to hire because of the limited and expensive housing in the Bay Area and the state in general.