May 20th was a big day for housing policy in the legislature. The Assembly Housing Committee met for 6 hours and deliberated legislation that spanned from contentious proposals to create rent caps for mobile home parks to streamlining for hotel/housing conversions.
All of the bills in the Habitat supported bills on the agenda today passed. The two bills impacting the Subdivision Map Act and SB 35 streamlining for projects less than 10 units were the most controversial of bills drew fierce opposition in the last week from labor unions, environmentalists and low-income housing advocacy groups (AB 3155 and AB 2666.) Fortunately, the tireless work from committee staff, the sponsors and Assemblymember Rivas and their ability to quickly negotiate in good faith and agree to address the majority of the concerns raised by stakeholders with amendments prevailed! Our sponsored bill (3155) passed with 5 “aye” votes, despite the overwhelming testimony in opposition to the bill from local building trades and labor leaders throughout the state, the Western Center of Law and Poverty, the Sierra Club and the League of Conservation Voters. AB 2666 did not have the same fate and the 20-unit threshold within the bill was simply too radical of a change to the Subdivision Map Act to bring the parties together to find a workable agreement before the hearing. It is also important to note that there are some important aspects of AB 2666 that were lost and could help the effectiveness of AB 3155. These provisions may need to be considered for inclusion into AB 3155 at a future date.
There was a lot of tension throughout the hearing that was not masked by the face coverings on the assembly members and witnesses. One debate (AB 2580) specifically related to the need to streamline projects and the use of CEQA, brought a member to tears as she talked about her personal experience and pleaded with their colleagues to “do the right thing” to support housing production. Chairman David Chiu and others argued to their colleagues that they had a “moral obligation” to address the housing crisis in California with real policy reforms and that requires them to stand up to their “friends and say no!” expressed by Assemblymember Eggman and another member argued that “we can’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”
There will be a lot more changes and negotiations to come surrounding several bills that passed, like AB 3155, but it is very early in the legislative process and there is plenty of time to iron out the details, factor in the pending legislation in the Senate and address how these bills will all interact with each other if signed by the Governor as another “package” in 2020.
The Senate Pro Tempore also announced her “housing production package” of bills too. The Senate Policy Committees meet next week and will begin deliberating these proposals, some of which came into print for the first time today, SB 995 and SB 1120.
Summary of Actions by Asm. Housing:
AB 3155 (Rivas, Robert ) Subdivision Map Act: small lot subdivisions–Support – passed
AB 2580 (Eggman) – Conversion of motels and hotels: streamlining – passed
AB 2553 (Ting) Shelter crisis declarations–Support – passed
AB 3040 (Chiu) Local planning: regional housing need assessment – passed
AB 2666 (Boerner Horvath) Starter Home Revitalization Act of 2020–Support—Held in committee