Politics Getting in the Way of Housing Legislation
Sen. Scott Wiener talks about the housing crisis.
In the first half of 2019, members of the California Legislature introduced roughly 200 bills that addressed the state’s worsening housing crisis. By the end of May, most of them had been nixed by the Byzantine nature of California politics.
So why can’t California pass real housing reform?
Among members of the Bay Area caucus, the most common refrain was to emphasize the number of housing bills that escaped the massacre, which are now winding through the Senate or the Assembly, in hopes of eventually reaching the governor’s desk.
State Sen. Nancy Skinner of Berkeley still has SB 330, the “Housing Crisis Act of 2019,” in the running. South Bay Sen. Jim Beall’s SB 5, designed to “fill in the affordable housing gap created by the dissolution of redevelopment agencies,” remains breathing as well.
Same goes for SF-based Assemblymember David Chiu’s AB 1482, which would cap annual rent increases at about 10 percent in most cities.
“Progress hasn’t been as fast as I’d like it to be, but we have been making some headway,” Chiu tells Curbed.
SB 50 Isn’t Dead Yet
Sacramento lawmakers are keenly positioned right now to argue that they haven’t failed despite the dearth of final policy. Even SB 50 isn’t dead yet, although its opponents have unfairly treated its suspension as an excuse for an early wake.
“I have introduced a tenant bill every year since 2014,” Chiu says. “The vast majority of tenant bills either die or stall or change dramatically during the process.”
But his bill passed the lower chamber, a feat that Chiu and his colleagues say would have been impossible a few years ago. That passage came after reducing its sunset period from 10 years to just three and raising the allowable rent hike before inflation from 5 percent to 7 percent.