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The city of San Diego’s had nothing but trouble trying to increase funding for subsidized housing.

Faced with a long waiting list of low-income residents waiting for subsidized homes, the city for years tried to hike a fee charged to commercial developers to help solve the shortfall. Last year, the city and business groups opposing the fee increase finally struck a compromise.

Now, Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins is looking to solve the problem from Sacramento, and she’s proposing a solution that’ll be familiar to anyone who’s been following along locally.

She rolled out a series of proposals this week that includes a new $75 fee on real estate transactions that, according to her office, will provide “a few hundred million dollars” for building housing for families earning below the median income.

Years ago, San Diego’s City Council opted against raising the fee charged to commercial developers, and instead formed a task force to propose a list of alternatives.

In 2011, the task force released 17 recommendations, none of which went anywhere. One of those was increasing the real estate transfer tax the city charges.

But in late 2013, as City Council was once again looking to increase the commercial development fee, opponents brought back the list of alternatives as evidence they had made good on their promise to look for another way to provide more low-income housing.

At the time, they were calling the commercial development fee “the jobs tax” as they mobilized against it.

It was interesting, then, that their list of preferred alternatives contained so many fees and taxes. We tried to figure out if they really supported all of those items, especially the ones that included tax or fee increases.

For the most part, they demurred. Chamber of Commerce CEO Jerry Sanders said we were asking them to negotiate against themselves. Others said no one had ever seriously proposed any of them, so they had never had occasion to take a formal position.

Matt Adams of the Building Industry Association said yep, if it’s on that list, they support it. Indeed, Adams told the U-T this week he’s excited about Atkins’ proposal.

Now that someone really is proposing one of those items – albeit at the state level – it’ll be worth watching how the rest of the local groups respond to it.

— Andrew Keatts

Bills, Bills, Bills

Assemblywoman Shirley Weber plans to introduce a bill that would allow foster kids to get state-funded tutoring and counseling even if they live with relatives. (EdSource)

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez had a busy week. She introduced a bill that would allow special elections to be conducted entirely by mail. Last year, she wrote a similar bill using San Diego County as a pilot.

Gonzalez also introduced a measure that would eliminate the state’s tax on diapers. It’s part of her crusade to make diapers more affordable for struggling families – a bill she wrote last year to allow welfare benefits to cover diapers got a lot of attention, but ultimately failed. Gonzalez’s latest bill had a surprising co-author: San Diego state Sen. Joel Anderson.

Gonzalez also offered a bill to cut down on the waiting time to become a probation officer and one that would let California host international disputes with foreign lawyers.

Dave Maass has a great roundup of legislation policing computer use this session, including bills addressing revenge porn and the video game industry from Escondido Assemblywoman Marie Waldron. (CityBeat)

Have you re-watched the “Bills, Bills, Bills” video lately? You should. Full disclosure: It doesn’t have anything to do with Sacramento.

Quick News Hits

The 2016 ballot might get DEMAIO’D. (Times of San Diego)

 Former L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa won’t run for U.S. Senate, leaving Attorney General Kamala Harris’ path wiiiiiiiiiide open. Tony V. has long been thought to prefer taking a crack at the governorship, which means we’ll probably get a governor’s race featuring two former big-city mayors who rebounded from cheating scandals during their tenure. (Los Angeles Times)

California’s new top-two primary system might be to blame for the big drop in voter turnout. (Fox and Hounds Daily)

California legislators are cracking way down on police departments. Current bills, including one by San Diego’s Shirley Weber, “would require agencies to require officers to wear body cameras to record their interactions with the public, create a third-party panel to review officer-involved deadly shootings, impose new training requirements for dealing with mentally ill people, and expand data-collection requirements when police use force,” reports the U-T.

San Diego’s Bag Man

It’s official: Voters will weigh in on the plastic bag ban in 2016. San Diegans apparently played a big role in forcing the measure onto the ballot.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer said Thursday the news prompted him to “[direct] city staff to resume with the environmental review of San Diego’s proposed plastic bag ordinance for consideration by the public and the City Council.”

Sara Libby

Sara Libby was VOSD’s managing editor until 2021. She oversaw VOSD’s newsroom and content.

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