SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KTVU) – Governor Jerry Brown is calling them “good bills”, 15 new pieces of legislation aimed at taking a crack at California’s affordable housing crisis.
Today the governor signed them into law while flanked by more than a dozen state lawmakers at San Francisco’s Hunter’s View, an affordable housing project in the Bayview neighborhood.
The laws will provide new funding for low-income housing developments, lower construction costs, fast-track building and it will restrict the ability of cities and counties to block new development.
“This is one. We got one!” yelled Brown after autographing the first bill and waving it in the air, which was met with resounding applause and smiles.
Most lawmakers said their impetus for pushing through the legislation was the state’s very visible and mushrooming homeless population.
“Because we’re not just talking about folks who are mentally ill, who are chronically homeless we’re talking about families who are barely hanging on by a shoestring,” said Kevin De Leon (D), President ProTempore of the CA State Senate.
“We see it every day here in the Bay Area as we are stuck in traffic stuck next to super commuters who spend two hours driving from a home they can afford to a job that allows them to afford it – driving over growing tent encampments,” remarked Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf.
“It’s heartbreaking and you go into most of these homes where people are lucky enough to have an apartment, I’ll bet most of them are struggling to make the rent,” said Eric Garcetti, Mayor of Los Angeles.
The bills also include a new fee on real estate transactions and a four billion dollar bond on the 20-18 ballot that together could raise about a billion dollars a year to help subsidize new homes for low income residents.
“When people make a lot of money cause they have all these apps, they start spending it and bidding up the price of housing!” said Governor Brown to a laughing crowd.
One bill authored by Berkeley Senator Nancy Skinner would streamline the permitting process so housing projects don’t get bogged down by bureacracy.
“Getting a permit to build housing should not be a shell game!” said Sen. Skinner.
For San Francisco Assemblyman David Chiu, the fight was personal.
“I have a toddler, at a time when our millenials in California- over half are thinking of leaving California because of housing costs, and my wife and I wonder whether he is going to have a place in our expensive city, our expensive state.”
While it’s not a panacea, Chiu says the new laws are a step foward.
“This will ensure that my son has a shot to live in the best city in the country someday, in the best state in the country,” said Chiu.