September BHGLAAR Lobbyist Report
Tuesday, Sep 12, 2017 @ 04:20 PM

Finally, locals and State elected officials are proclaiming that housing supply is the key to the affordable housing crisis. Unless the supply of housing is increased, prices will continue to rise. Further restricting prices, through rent control and other means, does nothing to increase supply and decrease overall housing costs.


There are many reasons for the lack of increased supply. Local cities establish their own zoning laws. Through those zoning laws, the cities can restrict height, density, and types of housing. As the Chair of BizFed PAC, I was involved in City Council candidate interviews for smaller cities in Los Angeles County for this past March election. When asked how the candidate would accommodate additional housing, the answer was overwhelmingly, ‘we don’t have any room for more housing’. Driving through these small cities, I discovered blocks and blocks, and, acres and acres of underutilized land that could be used for new housing. Therein lies the problem with the reaction of the local elected officials.

Additionally, the loud and unreasonable NIMBY (“Not In My Backyard”) faction can sway local elected official’s reasonable approach, to a “how do I get reelected” approach that might vote to support the NIMBY faction.

CEQA, the California Environmental Quality Act, that is required on many new housing developments, is a process, but not the problem. The problem lies in the challenges to CEQA findings that hold up the process in court and add additional costs to new development, thus raising the price of housing.

Currently, in the State Legislature, there are several bills moving forward…with great momentum for the first time…regarding housing issues. SB 2, this is the $75 recording fee on documents (except the sale of the property), to fund affordable and workforce housing. The California Association of REALTORS® was successful in the addition of “…20% of the moneys in the fund be expended for affordable owner-occupied workforce housing…”. That is a big victory for affordable homeownership opportunities.

SB 2, you may recall, has been around for a few legislative sessions, never making it out of the house of origin. This year, with the newly found knowledge of housing supply, it has made it from the Senate to the Assembly and is part of an overall housing package that will be dealt with upon their return from recess.

SB 35, by Senator Scott Weiner of San Francisco, will streamline the approval process for new housing developments. Currently, each city has a RHNA (“Regional Housing Needs Assessment”) goal. Each city gets to decide how much room they have for additional housing units at all income levels. Cities pay consultants tens of thousands of dollars to draft a report. The city submits it to the State. Then it has no effect. Cities can still do whatever they want with their housing approvals. There is no penalty for not meeting their RHNA numbers.

That is until SB 35 came along. When a city is not meeting their RHNA numbers and a builder want to build a new housing development, SB 35 would kick in, making the city approve the project that meets that meets the SB 35 requirements and passes design review.

Los Angeles is moving forward with Linkage Fee proposal. That would assess an affordable housing fee on every new building. This plan will be heard in the Planning and Land Use Management (“PLUM”) Committee in late August. The opposition is quite high for this proposal. Funding of workforce housing is not part of the proposal.

If you want to keep up with housing policy with BHGLAAR, please join our Public Policy Committee. They meet the 4th Monday of each month from 1:00-3:00, at BHGLAAR.

James Ward Litz 

Government Affairs Director

Beverly Hills Greater Los Angeles Association of REALTORS

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