City Beat

Could higher taxes be Sacramento’s answer to the housing crisis?

It’s appearing more and more likely that Sacramento voters will be asked to dip into their wallets to help alleviate the city’s housing crisis.

Mayor Darrell Steinberg said this week that city officials should “seriously consider a housing measure on the 2018 ballot.” A city housing measure could involve selling a onetime bond to fund affordable housing or create an ongoing revenue source through fees or taxes.

“We need to look seriously at a funding measure,” Steinberg said.

Steinberg discussed the measure after joining the mayors of Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego and other large California cities in the state Capitol on Wednesday to lobby for a series of housing measures under consideration by the Legislature. One of them, Senate Bill 2 by Sen. Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, would create a real estate transaction fee to fund new housing. A statewide $4 billion bond measure could also appear on next year’s ballot.

Other California cities have recently passed housing ballot measures. Los Angeles voters overwhelmingly approved a $1.2 billion bond measure in 2016 to build housing for the chronically homeless. San Francisco voters passed a $310 million bond measure in 2015.

Steinberg said that much of the progress being made in Sacramento could be in jeopardy if measures aren’t taken to address the city’s lack of affordable housing and skyrocketing rents.

“Sacramento has the right spirit and the right aspirations to be a city that’s for and about everyone, but we have a lot of work to do to accomplish that,” he said.

Pointing in the direction of Golden 1 Center, he added, “We need to connect the economic growth to the neighborhoods.”

Local officials may ask voters for a lot in 2018. City officials are discussing a ballot measure to extend – or make permanent – a sales tax increase first approved in 2012 that funds core city services, including police officers, firefighters and parks maintenance. Regional government officials are also debating whether to place a sales tax measure on the ballot that would finance transportation projects.

Steinberg already appears to be gearing up for a ballot campaign in 2018. A committee he formed in April called the Mayor Darrell Steinberg Committee for Sacramento’s Future got a $100,000 donation from the state Building and Construction Trades Council. The mayor also has nearly $500,000 left in his 2016 mayoral campaign account.

Ryan Lillis: 916-321-1085, @Ryan_Lillis