Capitol Alert AM Newsletter

Housing stack signed + 2020 candidates to speak on LGBTQ issues + Impeachment heckling isn’t working

Tawny Macedo and Dov Kadin built an accessory dwelling unit in their backyard and have new tenants moving into the dwelling on Wednesday, August 21, 2019 in Sacramento.
Tawny Macedo and Dov Kadin built an accessory dwelling unit in their backyard and have new tenants moving into the dwelling on Wednesday, August 21, 2019 in Sacramento. pkitagaki@sacbee.com

It’s Thursday, readers, but the news is far from over. We have until Sunday for the governor to sign a remaining stack of bills on his desk, so plan to hold off on happy hour until next week.

Until then...

A ROOF OVER THEIR HEADS

Gov. Gavin Newsom concluded his two-day tour yesterday in Los Angeles, where he signed off on the last of 18 measures aimed to address the housing affordability and availability crisis in California.

“The high cost of housing and rent is putting the squeeze on family budgets, and our housing shortage threatens our economic growth and long-term prosperity,” Newsom said, via press release. “This crisis has been more than a half century in the making, and this administration is just getting started on solutions.”

The state has prioritized a “Three P” approach — protection, preservation and production — to alleviate housing burdens throughout California. The bills Newsom signed this week will attempt to hit on all three.

The roundup:

  • Newsom signed on Tuesday a two-for-one renter protection bill that caps rent increases on certain units at 5 percent plus inflation. The new law also prohibits landlords from evicting tenants without “just cause.” Assembly Bill 1482 landed on Newsom’s desk as one of the most powerful housing proposals of the year.

“This is about protection,” Newsom said. “The most significant rent cap legislation in America was just signed.”

  • The governor also signed off on Senate Bill 330, which limits “downzoning” and tightens cities’ ability to add building standards that drive up construction costs. After Senate Bill 50 died earlier this year, SB 330 became the favored vehicle to take aim at zoning restrictions.

“It is a very important measure to help us address the fact that we have an extreme housing shortage in California,” said Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, during a floor debate last month. “In fact, California has the lowest number of per capita housing units in the U.S.”

  • If your grandma’s looking for a new home in an accessory dwelling unit, she’ll now have fewer barriers to the move-in process. Newsom signed a handful of bills yesterday that will increase access to the units by eliminating approval and construction obstacles and ensuring they’re available to lower-income Californians.

“One of the quickest ways to ramp up our housing supply is to build more Accessory Dwelling Units,” said Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco. “They also enable homeowners to be part of the solution in helping us address California’s unprecedented housing crisis.”

The not-so-great news? Newsom promised during his campaign to build 3.5 million new homes by 2025. So far, he’s not on track to achieve that goal.

‘POWER OF OUR PRIDE’

Nine presidential candidates will be in Los Angeles tonight for a town hall hosted by CNN and the Human Rights Foundation.

The town hall was scheduled to focus on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer issues, according to CNN. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who had a heart attack last week, canceled his appearance at the event.

That leaves, in the order that they are scheduled to be interviewed:

  • New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker
  • Former Vice President Joe Biden
  • South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg
  • Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren
  • California Sen. Kamala Harris
  • Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke
  • Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar
  • Former HUD Secretary Julián Castro
  • Major Democratic donor Tom Steyer

The focused agenda will allow the candidates an opportunity to differentiate their general LGBTQ-friendly positions from one another, said Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California.

“It’s really about, for us, understanding who has a deep understanding of the complexities of the needs of our community and who’s actually going to improve the lives of LGBTQ people and obtain civil rights for them across the country,” Zbur said. “I think it’s important to help LGBTQ people really start to differentiate among the candidates, but more importantly it forces all of the candidates to educate themselves about the issues.”

Some of the topics Zbur said Equality California will be looking for are efforts to expand a new law Newsom signed this week that will make HIV-prevention drugs easier to obtain, and ways to decrease violence against transgender women of color. Zbur’s list goes on to include immigration, education, military service and homelessness.

We don’t view LGBTQ issues in a sort of narrow cone,” Zbur said. “Our community is diverse, which gives us our strength, but the things we’re interested in are broad.”

The town hall, dubbed the “Power of our Pride,” precedes “National Coming Out Day” tomorrow. It will be aired on CNN, which said the event will begin at 4:30 tonight.

LESS CONTROVERSIAL TOPICS

Via McClatchy D.C. reporter Kate Irby...

The fundraising arm of House Republicans has been giddily inviting people unhappy about impeachment to attend town halls hosted by Democrats in purple districts and voice their displeasure.

In California’s Central Valley, it doesn’t seem to be working.

McClatchy reporters over the past month attended town halls in three California battleground districts. The congressmen received few questions about impeachment, and only one Trump supporter spoke up at the four events reporters attended.

The purple district Democrats are happy to move on to less controversial topics. And that lines up with what polls say independents tend to want their member of Congress to focus on — something other than impeachment.

Being outspoken on matters related to President Donald Trump “is not what constituents sent members to Washington for,” said Monmouth University poll director Patrick Murray.

To read Irby’s full report, click here.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

October 10 — Gov. Gavin Newsom

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“We’re doing everything in our power, my gosh, everything in our power to help them help themselves. Now it’s time for them to do the right thing, get out of bankruptcy and get this system into the 21st century.”

— Newsom on PG&E outage during his housing tour on Wednesday

Best of The Bee:

  • California Gov. Gavin Newsom ‘outraged’ by PG&E blackouts, but says they’re needed by Sophia Bollag and Hannah Wiley
  • Contract gamble: California state workers who voted down raise want return to bargaining by Wes Venteicher
  • California jail inmates promised free medical visits under new law banning co-pays by Bryan Anderson
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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