Housing deal reached by Gov. Brown, legislative Democrats, including $4 billion bond

169068 full
169068 full

California Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative Democrats have reached a housing deal at the state Capitol that includes a $4 billion bond, a new fee on real estate transaction documents and several efforts to streamline new development projects.

“We’re going to take a shot at this later this week,” Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood) told Capital Public Radio in an interview Monday, adding that he believes his Democratic colleagues can muster the votes to pass the measures – including ones that require a two-thirds supermajority.

“We’re looking at a tremendous shortage of housing,” Rendon says, pointing to a California Department of Housing and Community Development estimate that the state must build 180,000 new units of housing every year to meet demand. “So I think the governor and everyone else here in Sacramento realizes the urgency of this.”

The bill package includes a dozen measures, with three headliners:

  • SB 3, a $4 billion housing bond measure that would require voter approval on the November 2018 ballot. It includes $3 billion to help subsidize affordable housing projects, with the debt payments coming from the state’s general fund; and $1 billion for the California Department of Veterans Affairs home loan program, which will be repaid through mortgage payments;
  • SB 2, a $75 document fee on real estate transactions – excluding new home purchases – to create a permanent funding source for affordable housing projects. It’s projected to raise between $200-$300 million per year; and
  • SB 35, a bill that seeks to force cities and counties to streamline the planning process for urban, multi-family projects. To be eligible, the projects must meet certain zoning and requirements, such as paying construction workers a prevailing wage.

“We recognize that this housing crisis is a problem that didn’t arise overnight, and it’s going to take some time to address it,” Rendon says. “I think this is a good first stab at the problem.”

One of the final outstanding issues in negotiations was the size of the housing bond. As Capital Public Radio reported earlier this month, Gov. Jerry Brown linked the housing talks to discussions over a parks and water bond by seeking to limit the bonds’ combined size to $7 billion.

Because the $1 billion veterans home loans portion of the $4 billion housing bond will be repaid through mortgage payments, the state general fund will only be on the hook for repaying $3 billion. That suggests the parks and water bond will end up at $4 billion.

The other bills that comprise the deal will be announced Tuesday. They include additional efforts to streamline the development process and make it harder for cities and counties to evade state housing mandates.

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