California affordable housing bills get their final sign-off – Orange County Register

By KATY MURPHY and CASEY TOLAN

SAN FRANCISCO — A package of long-awaited bills aimed at addressing California’s affordable-housing crisis were signed into law today, as Gov. Jerry Brown, big-city mayors and lawmakers celebrated the hard-fought victory — and vowed to continue chipping away at the problem gripping the state.

“Today we are here to tell those who are suffering that we hear you and are committed to make housing affordable again,” said Assemblyman Richard Bloom, D-Santa Monica.

In the final hours of the legislative session, lawmakers gave final approval to 15 bills that would attack the problem in different ways. Two of the bills would create funding for the construction of below-market-rate housing, while others aim to make all housing development faster and cheaper by smoothing the notoriously lengthy and unpredictable approval process that has been blamed for the shortage of needed homes.

One of the funding measures, Senate Bill 3, by Sen. Jim Beall, D-Campbell, will place a $4 billion affordable housing measure on the November 2018 ballot. Beall has said the bond, if approved, would lead to roughly $20 million in affordable-housing construction when tax credits and matching funds are included.

Another, by Bloom, would allow cities to again require developers to include affordable rental units — “and I know they will,” he quipped. Brown vetoed a similar measure in 2013, but signed Bloom’s Assembly Bill 1505.

The housing package has been championed by trades unions and developers, as well as affordable-housing advocates, for the jobs it will create.

The Van Nuys-based Valley Industry & Commerce Association issued a statement ahead of the signing, saying that developers have for decades watched as “abuse of environmental laws and convoluted local planning processes” have prevented them from building the housing the state needs.

“We can no longer ignore the crisis this has created, and the shortage of homes for working…

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