California’s Housing Moment

California’s Housing Moment

Posted on August 1, 2017

By Tom Collishaw, CEO of Self-Help Enterprises.

If you follow California politics, you may have noticed that affordable housing – that’s right – became front and center in the latest legislative maneuverings. The governor’s goal to extend the Cap-and-Trade program, the world-leading effort to combat climate change, was briefly held hostage by key legislators insisting on a deal to increase the supply of affordable and market rate housing.

While it is a bit intoxicating to be in play in this high stakes political game, it is still quite possible that, like in each of the last several legislative sessions, we will come away with nothing. That is, if legislators fail to seize this moment.

Cap-and-Trade was extended with a rare bipartisan super-majority (including a meaningful and gutsy aye vote from local Assemblymember Devon Mathis) with action on housing delayed for another month. At this point, all we have is a joint promise from the governor and leaders of both legislative houses to pursue both money and permit streamlining to increase affordability and housing supply in California.

But the road to get there is still decidedly tricky. The two most important money bills are SB 2 (which would create a new fee on recorded documents) and SB 3 (which would put a bond initiative on the 2018 ballot) are far from a “done” deal, and require a two-thirds supermajority vote.

The fact remains that California is the least affordable housing market in the nation, and we have not made a meaningful investment in housing since the last bond over 10 years ago. The only thing that will distinguish this moment is for our elected representatives to do the right thing and get this thing done.

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