Assemblyman Todd Gloria hailed the 15 housing bills Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law last week as “a magnificent achievement,” but he warned that it’s “not mission accomplished” when it comes to addressing the state’s housing shortage. Gloria’s remarks came at the beginning of the first meeting of the Assembly’s Select Committee on Housing Affordability for Middle & Working Class, which he chairs.

Gloria, who sat on the board of the San Diego Housing Commission for three years prior to being elected to the City Council in 2008, was appointed in April to head the committee. Its goal, he said Monday, is to identify areas of housing policy where there’s room for improvement, with the focus being on boosting the production of units affordable to middle-income earners.

Folks offering testimony ranged from for-profit developers to low-income housing advocates, and much of what was said were the same things you hear in any discussion on what’s driving up California housing costs: there’s not enough supply and no incentive for local governments to meet regional housing needs.

“This has been decades in the making,” said Carol Galante, a UC Berkeley professor focusing on affordable housing and urban policy. “None of the existing bills that passed do anything to appreciably change the cost of production.”

Exclusionary zoning that shuts out multifamily projects, the California Environmental Quality Act — the nearly 50-year-old state law that requires developers to disclose a project’s environmental impacts — and community pressure to curtail growth were all cited as culprits in the state’s housing shortage.

“The challenges at the local level are significant,” said Debbie Ruane, chief strategy officer with the San Diego Housing Commission. Ruane pointed to a recent analysis showing that San Diego has the space to add the roughly 200,000 units it needs to build over the next 10 years. For that to happen, residents need to be comfortable with the added density.

“All city council districts have to contribute,” she said. “It’s not the not-in-my-backyard. It’s yes-in-my-backyard.”

“Gold star to Debbie for bringing up YIMBY,” Gloria said. He asked whether there’s been any pushback on the report. Not yet, Ruane said, since it was published only a week and a half ago.

“As we talk to folks who are afraid of density, I have a phrase: ‘It’s not for you, it’s for your kids and your grandkids,’” she told him.

“You can get some converts pretty quickly when they don’t have to travel on Southwest to see the grandkids,” Gloria said, “they can just travel down the street.”

Gloria’s bill that would allow local housing authorities, like the San Diego Housing Commission, to get involved in mixed-income housing, is awaiting the governor’s signature.

Kelly Davis

Brown Signs the Big One – But Is it Sanctuary?

Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday signed a package of bills aimed at protecting undocumented immigrants, including perhaps the most hotly contested bill of the session this year, SB 54 by Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin de León.

The bill represents what will be a huge change for San Diego law enforcement. Here’s how Scott Lewis described it earlier this year:

Right now, 18 Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents work inside three jails in San Diego County, providing the federal government access to people arrested in San Diego 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

It’s been that way for 10 years and a version of the arrangement goes back to 1998.

Though the bill does mean ICE will likely no longer have its own offices within local jails, Brown said in a signing statement that some cooperation will still take place, and that federal authorities will still be able to do their jobs:

This bill does not prevent or prohibit Immigration and Customs Enforcement or the Department of Homeland Security from doing their own work in any way. They are free to use their own considerable resources to enforce federal immigration law in California. Moreover, the bill does not prevent sheriffs from granting immigration authorities access to California jails to conduct routine interviews, nor does it prevent cooperation in deportation proceedings for anyone in state prison or for those in local jails for any of the hundreds of serious offenses listed in the TRUST Act.

Though SB 54 has become known as the “sanctuary state bill,” Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher argued on Twitter that it’s largely been opponents using that phrasing.

After all, thousands of immigrants each year are deported from California alone, despite existing immigrant-friendly policies, and many of them have no criminal histories beyond entering the country illegally.

Encinitas Dem Announces She’ll Challenge Chavez

Encinitas Councilwoman Tasha Boerner Horvath, a Democrat, announced this week that she’ll challenge Republican Assemblyman Rocky Chavez in 2018.

Boerner Horvath told the Coast News she believes there are issues important to the district that Chavez doesn’t focus on enough.

“Veterans are very important and we need to do more for those people who risk their lives in defense of our freedoms,” she said. “And our district has more than just veterans’ issues going on. We have a very pro-environment district … and (he) hasn’t come out and says he supports community choice aggregation, and that is what the people in his district want and are doing and he’s not supporting us.

Late last month, Boerner Horvath announced she supports Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher’s bill to reform SANDAG, AB 805. Chavez voted against the bill.

The Bill Signings Keep Coming

Gov. Jerry Brown also signed into law these bills written by San Diego lawmakers this week:

• AB 607 by Gloria allows those receiving public assistance to continue accessing benefits during and after declared states of emergencies.

• AB 1031 by Assemblywoman Marie Waldron to make voluntary contributions through their personal income tax returns to the Endangered and Rare Fish, Wildlife, and Plant Species Conservation and Enhancement Account.

• AB 1134 by Gloria allows the Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission to establish a fellowship program.

• SB 6 by Sen. Ben Hueso ratifies the tribal-state gaming compact with the Quechan Tribe of the Fort Yuma Indian Reservation.

• SB 156 by Sen. Joel Anderson provides resources to noncitizen military veterans.

• SB 385 by Hueso makes technical changes to the Public Utilities Code.

• SB 462 by Sen. Toni Atkins clarifies that probation departments may access juvenile case files in order to comply with reporting requirements. It also allows courts to authorize probation departments to engage third-party researchers for limited access to juvenile case files for research purposes. 

Golden State News

• A majority of those killed in the Las Vegas shooting were from California. (San Francisco Chronicle)

• Silicon Valley loves it some a capella. (New York Magazine)

• Six years after leaving the governor’s office, Arnold Schwarzenegger is still reinventing himself. (Politico Magazine)

• Attorney General Xavier Becerra is pursuing criminal charges against Carlsbad jewelry store owners he says preyed on Camp Pendleton Marines using predatory loans. (Union-Tribune)

• A fellow California Democratic congresswoman says it’s time for Rep. Nancy Pelosi to pass the leadership torch. (L.A. Times)

 A new state audit is not very kind to Gov. Jerry Brown’s big Delta Tunnels project, which it says has suffered from soaring costs and bad management.

Sara Libby

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

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