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Gov. Brown and legislature push housing deal

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San Francisco state senator’s sweeping development bill is part of compromise package

A fountain in front of the Sacramento Capitol Building. Photo by MDGN

After more than a year of wrangling various housing bills and ideas for housing bills, Capital Public Radio reported Monday night that Gov. Jerry Brown and state lawmakers have agreed on a housing package, including a multibillion-dollar affordable-housing bond bill and a sweeping new law that changes how California cities build.

The bond measure, introduced by San Jose’s Sen. Jim Beall, would “authorize the issuance of bonds in the amount of $3,000,000,000 [...] to finance various existing housing programs, as well as infill infrastructure financing and affordable housing matching grant programs.”

Voters would have to approve the bond measure at the ballot box in 2018. The bill includes another $1 billion for loan program aimed at veterans.

“We cannot continue to ignore California’s startling lack of affordable housing,” Senate Majority Leader Kevin de León said in a statement backing the bond plan.

Photo by Neon Tommy

Also included in the deal, according to Cap Radio, is San Francisco Sen. Scott Wiener’s SB 35, a bill that would, in effect, force some cities to build more housing by temporarily hobbling much of their ability to say no to new development and laying aside local restrictions unless they keep up with state expectations on their own.

The bill has riled tempers in Marin County, where locals like columnists Dick Spotswood and Niccolo Caldararo accuse Wiener and the rest of the Sacramento set of putting the burden of larger city’s housing woes on neighboring communities.

“If San Franciscans want to point fingers, they should look closer to home,” Caldararo wrote on Monday.

Nevertheless, Wiener (who started pushing SB 35 almost from the moment of his swearing in) has insisted for months that the housing crisis demands more aggressive policy everywhere.

Photo by Loco Steve

This morning, Wiener’s office put out a press release touting support for the bill from the likes of San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, among others, an attempt to undermine the perception that Sacramento is bullying unwilling municipal governments.

Lee called the measure “a reasonable streamlining bill,” while Schaaf argued that it’s time for California cities to accept the reality of “diverse populations and more dense development.”

Further details on the housing package should come out later today.