Assembly leader: Jerry Brown 'backed us into a corner' on housing package
Attempts to craft an end-of-session affordable-housing package are “dead” for the year, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon said Thursday, saying there continues to be intense opposition to Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal to relax local land-use rules in return for $400 million for housing projects.
“I don’t think there’s any support in our caucus for the … proposal as the architecture was rendered by the governor,” said Rendon, D-Paramount.
Labor and environmental groups earlier this month broke off talks on language the Governor’s Office said would ease bureaucratic hurdles to home construction in California, which has among the highest housing costs in the country.
Rendon’s comments came the day after advocates for the poor and other groups sent a letter calling on Brown and legislative leaders to approve the $400 million in spending and leave the rest of the debate for another day. The groups ranged from Habitat for Humanity California to the Sierra Club, which also is part of the coalition opposing the governor’s proposal.
“Unfortunately, the decision to link that $400 million to enactment of a controversial proposal to streamline market-rate housing development approvals has left the money stranded,” the letter reads. “With little time remaining in the legislative session and no real prospect of a deal, we must ask you to release the funds.”
Assembly Democrats earlier this year called for spending $1.3 billion on affordable housing. The budget package approved by the Legislature included half that amount.
Brown, though, has questioned the expense of subsidizing affordable housing projects. The final agreement between Brown and lawmakers in June included the $400 million, but tied its appropriation to the Legislature’s approving the changes in local land-use law. That money has been set aside but never appropriated.
“Linking it ... has sort of backed us into a corner,” Rendon said. “It doesn’t look like the negotiations are going any further at this point.”
Ray Pearl, executive director of the California Housing Consortium, voiced disappointment at Rendon’s comments.
“When vital programs that provide housing for vulnerable Californians are on the table, we count on having leaders in our corner,” Pearl said in a statement. “The time to invest $400 million in affordable housing is now; we can’t wait for the housing crisis to drive more Californians into poverty.”
Editor’s note: This post was updated at 4:40 p.m. Aug. 18 to include Ray Pearl’s statement.