Thursday, September 19, 2019

Update on Housing Related Legislative Items - Four Things Bad for Clayton

Now that the legislative session is over and bills have gone to the governor, for him to sign or reject, I think it’s worthwhile to look back at the CASA Compact that we discussed earlier this year to see how we ended up. It had 10 elements that collectively the City Council says they were opposed to because it took a one size fits all approach, and in many ways usurped local control.  Well now the legislature has passed four bills that are sitting with the governor (AB1482, SB330, AB1487, and SB5), and they are all bad for Clayton.

  1. The first two elements of the CASA Compact were rent control and just cause eviction – that is now sitting with the governor with AB1482. AB1482 - Another bill by State Assembly Member Chiu implementing Bay Area wide rent control, making rent increases of more than 5% + CPI illegal. It was amended recently to incorporate rules that prohibit eviction without certain limited allowed reasons. Rent control is a decades old failed policy that nearly every economist agrees on. As Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman wrote, “The analysis of rent control is among the best-understood issues in all of economics, and -- among economists, anyway -- one of the least controversial. In 1992 a poll of the American Economic Association found 93 percent of its members agreeing that ''a ceiling on rents reduces the quality and quantity of housing.''

    The voters of CA soundly rejected the idea of expanding rent control as recently as 2018. Proposition 10 in 2018 would have repealed limits on rent control, allowing cities to enact policies similar to what Chiu is proposing with AB1482. Voters rejected this statewide by over 20 points and now the legislature passed what the voters rejected and AB1482 is now sitting with the governor.
  2. Element six was dubbed “good government”, and took shape in SB330. It prevents cities from denying building projects under most circumstances, limits number of meetings, and caps and freezes fees.This bill also attempts to fast track project approvals by limiting the number of hearings allowable even if the nature or scope of a project changes over the years. This includes any public hearing, workshop, or similar meeting conducted by the city or county with respect to the housing development project. For example, any meeting of the newly formed Land Use Subcommittee. It was approved by the legislature and is now sitting with the governor.
  3. Element ten was a new regional housing enterprise to put a whole host of taxes on the ballot, the one where even the ABAG lobbyist that was here said no one was in favor of. It’s now in front of the governor with AB1487.

    Ultimately, we heard that ABAG's support of AB1487 was conditioned on three specific changes to the bill. One of those conditions was that ABAG control the money of course. ABAG conditioned their support position on them being the lead agency in raising and distributing funds.

    In the latest updated AB1487 language, Chapter 3, Section 64650 (b)(1) states that the allocation of regional housing revenues must first be approved by the Executive Board (ABAG), then by the Authority Board (MTC). However, if MTC takes an action that differs from ABAG, then ABAG must approve what MTC chose.

    All this talk about needing to have a seat at the table didn’t amount to much – the conditions upon which ABAG rested their support didn’t come to pass, and the bill moved forward anyways. I’d much rather stand for principle and say no, then compromise core values and get kicked in the teeth anyways. And even though the senate ultimately passed the measure, I’m glad Senator Glazer actually stood for principle, local control, rather than just lip service while conspiring with those that would see local control torn down. This is what MTC and ABAG did when they supported this bill, and what Assembly member Grayson did when he voted in favor of this bill. AB1487 was approved by the legislature and is now sitting with the governor.
  4. One of the wish list items from the CASA Compact was a return of redevelopment. This took the form of SB5. Previous redevelopment activity was ripe with problems. Inefficient spending, for the benefit of developers, siphoning state funds that crowded out education and ultimately didn’t produce the intended results. Jerry Brown was right to kill these programs back in 2011 that allowed cities to play fast and loose with taxpayer money, claiming to build affordable housing, while enriching developers, and diverting property tax dollars that should rightfully be going to our schools. Unfortunately, SB5 is was approved by the legislature and is now sitting with the governor.
If you have thoughts on any of these bills that are with the governor, I encourage you to reach out to his office and make your opinion known.