The governor’s new budget makes clear that he isn’t willing to spend more money from the state’s general fund on affordable housing.

Gov. Jerry Brown didn’t propose any new funding for low-income housing and made clear he wouldn’t support proposed legislation that would increase spending. Even the $400 million Brown had agreed to spend last year if lawmakers signed off on his plan to streamline local development was taken off the table.

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He reiterated his stance from last year that obstacles created locally – such as community opposition, delays in permit approvals, impact fees and parking requirements – are driving up the cost of building homes. He urged a continued push for legislation that would eliminate discretionary local reviews for housing developments that comply with local rules.

San Diego legislators Sen. Toni Atkins and Assemblyman Todd Gloria responded to the governor’s budget with disappointment on the housing front.

“I am concerned that the spending plan does not sufficiently address California’s housing affordability crisis,” said Gloria in a statement. “The elimination of the $400 million set-aside for affordable housing approved last year is a step backwards and I will work with my colleagues in the Legislature to make housing affordability a priority again.”

Atkins used the budget proposal to underscore the importance of her own housing bill, SB 2, which would, in part, create a new stream of funding for the construction of low-income housing by charging a $75 fee on real estate recording documents.

“We must respond to the severe housing crisis facing us – our families and our economy depend on it,” Atkins said in a statement.

Stephen Russell, the executive director the San Diego Housing Federation, said the governor’s attitude isn’t surprising.

“Our strategy needs to be looking at the places where we can have success because we’re not going to get a lot this year,” Russell said.

Atkins’ bill could be promising, since it would create a new stream of funding, rather than pull from the state’s general fund. A similar bill she proposed last year didn’t garner enough votes to pass, but a new Democratic supermajority may help it this session, said Russell.

But other bills, such as one from Assemblymen Miguel Santiago and David Chiu, which would allocate some money from the general fund to the state attorney general to more strictly enforce state housing laws, might be a tougher sell.

Maya Srikrishnan

More Budget Reactions

Though Republicans continually seem grudgingly impressed by Brown’s fiscal prudence, they still found plenty to be unimpressed with in his latest budget. Many zeroed in on transportation needs, and the shadow of uncertainty at the federal level.

“Given national economic conditions and pending policy changes in Washington, D.C., it’s prudent that the budget has embraced a relatively cautious approach. The state must be extra vigilant in its spending and California would be better served if our state’s leadership seeks cooperation instead of confrontation with the new federal administration.

“On transportation, I agree with the need to fix our aging roads, but I am troubled that the governor still wants drivers to pay massively higher gas taxes. The state can fix our roads by diverting money from an unnecessary high-speed train, eliminating inefficiencies at Caltrans and using designated transportation dollars for their original purpose.”
Sen. Pat Bates

“It’s clear that Governor Brown is concerned about declining tax revenue and the potential for a recession in the near future, and I appreciate his cautious approach. His willingness to hold spending essentially flat despite pressure to do otherwise is commendable. … This budget neglects to address our significant transportation and water infrastructure needs, pays down far too little debt and does not do enough to strengthen our state’s rainy day fund.”

Assemblyman Randy Voepel

“If the Affordable Care Act is changed in any significant way, we will have a fiscal issue here in California. With the governor already projecting a $1.6 billion deficit and the possibility of losing more in terms of federal funding, California could see quite the shortfall.”

“With much uncertainty coming from the federal government and its positions on the ACA, immigration and climate policies, there is still much to be gleaned and discussed in the coming months.”

Assemblyman Rocky Chavez


Meanwhile, the ACLU of California identified two big priorities in its reaction to Brown’s budget, and one of them is San Diego Sen. Ben Hueso’s bill that would create a program to provide all immigrants with legal services during deportation proceedings.

“We commend Governor Brown for his bold move on driver’s license suspensions, and urge him and the legislature to be equally bold in fortifying their commitment to fairness and due process with robust funding for the Due Process for All Act (D-Hueso) and the Stronger Public Defenders Act (D-Bonta),” said Natasha Minsker, director of the American Civil Liberties Union of California’s Center for Advocacy and Policy.

Weber on Becerra and California

Sara’s recipe for romance: Find someone who talks as lovingly about you as Assemblywoman Shirley Weber talks about the state of California.

Weber was a member of the Assembly Special Committee on the Office of the Attorney General, and voted this week to recommend the full Assembly approve Rep. Xavier Becerra as California’s next attorney general. (Disclosure: My husband works for the California Department of Justice.)

YouTube video

During the hearing, she told Becerra:

“Some 65 years ago, my father fled Hope, Ark., in fear for his life because of the racism in Arkansas at that time. And that has always been an impact on our life in terms of coming to California, and seeing California as truly the Golden State of Opportunity.”

Weber also noted the contrast between Becerra’s hearing and Sen. Jeff Sessions’ hearing to become the U.S. attorney general.

Notable contrast between picks for US & CA AG in terms of values, temperament & outlook. VIDEO: hearing re #Becerra

— Asm. Shirley Weber (@AsmShirleyWeber) January 11, 2017

Golden State News

 Gov. Jerry Brown’s State of the State address will take place on Jan. 24.

 Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom knows CEQA has held up countless projects in California and thinks it could hold up one more: President-elect Trump’s border wall. (Golden State Podcast)

 Meet Rob Pyers, the unlikely elections data guru. (L.A. Times)

  One California legislator is targeting fake news with a new civic education bill.

 Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon has some major staffing changes in the works. (Politico)

 A hot new legal frontier: trademarks for pot. (CalMatters)

 President Obama has named a large California coastal expanse a national monument, adding to the existing California Coastal National Monument. (Mercury News)

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

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