Capitol Alert

The missing multi-family housing + Efforts to reduce plastic + Resentencing victory

These are some of the issues behind California’s housing crisis

California's housing crisis is due in large part to a lack of supply, particularly when it comes to affordable housing, and it is hitting low-income individuals the hardest.
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California's housing crisis is due in large part to a lack of supply, particularly when it comes to affordable housing, and it is hitting low-income individuals the hardest.

Happy Thursday, California! It’s August already?

Less than two weeks until the Capitol halls are refilled with people eager to pass some laws! In the meantime...

MISSING MIDDLE HOUSING

Since the Great Recession in 2008, new housing construction across the country has steadily increased, according to a new report out from Apartment List.

But the number of housing permits authorized in 2018 is still “significantly below its pre-recession peak,” the report noted, with nearly 40 percent fewer units permitted in 2018 than there were in 2005.

One issue in the slow housing recovery is that multi-family homes are being built at a faster rate than single-family homes, in areas that already had a lot of multi-unit buildings, according to the author of the report, Chris Salviati.

In California cities like San Francisco and San Diego, high construction costs lead developers to build large apartment complexes at high prices to ensure that their project is profitable. Strict zoning laws also constrain where multi-housing projects can be built.

But what is missing are other types of buildings, such as townhouses and low-rise apartments, which are alternatives for dense neighborhoods and maintain inclusive housing affordability, according to Salviati.

“Many of the zoning reforms described above strive to remove barriers to building a type of housing that has been referred to as the ‘missing middle,’” Salviati wrote. “This type of housing — two to four unit buildings, accessory dwelling units, townhouses, and low-rise apartment buildings — can play an important role in increasing density and creating walkable neighborhoods, without impacting neighborhood character is the same way as mid- and high-rise apartment buildings.”

Why it mattersSenate Bill 50 would have done just that, by overwriting zoning regulations to allow for more housing in jobs- and transit-rich areas and the development of fourplex buildings. But the legislation was shelved until January 2020 after local officials pushed back on state Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, for writing a proposal that challenged their zoning restrictions.

Housing advocates for the bill said it would increase production in a state that desperately needs additional housing. But opponents of the bill also said it would spur gentrification in areas that are already struggling with rising rent prices.

Salviati pointed to SB 50 and several national laws that would have changes policies that are often “inextricably linked to redlining practices that served to explicitly enforce patterns of residential racial segregation.”

“Single-family zoning also impedes the development of dense multi-family housing units, which can be an important source of market-rate affordable housing. Furthermore, denser cities are significantly more sustainable, and growing our cities with more dense development can play an important role in combating climate change.”

PLASTICS

Nearly 75 percent of Californians reported they’re concerned about plastics and marine debris along California coasts in the most recent Public Policy Institute of California poll.

After California moved to reduce plastic straw usage in recent years, lawmakers are considering two up-the-ante bills that would drastically reduce single-use packaging and plastic products.

Assembly Bill 1080 and Senate Bill 54 both aim to make these products recyclable or compostable by 2030. CalRecycle would be tasked with documenting recycling rates for the next decade.

Both bills now hang in Appropriations.

“Californians shouldn’t expect to see plastics littered along our streets, highways, waterways and beaches. But we do,” said AB 1080’s author, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego. “It’s time we find more sustainable ways to produce and recycle plastics and other products in California.”

RESENTENCING VICTORY

Assemblyman Phil Ting, a Democrat from San Francisco, is holding a press conference today at 11:30 a.m. to announce “what is believed to be the first re-sentencing case in the state of California of a defendant under Assembly Bill 2942.”

The legislation was signed last September and kicked into effect at the start of this year. The new law authorizes prosecutors the chance to review cases and reduce sentences if the terms were “unjustly harsh.”

Ting is scheduled to join San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan, as well as the resident who was recently released and lives in San Diego, according to a press release for the event.

The announcement will be at the district attorney’s office in San Diego.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

Aug. 1 — Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins, D-San Diego

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Hannah Wiley joined The Bee as a legislative reporter in 2019. She produces the morning newsletter for Capitol Alert and previously reported on immigration, education and criminal justice. She’s a Chicago-area native and a graduate of Saint Louis University and Northwestern.
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