As a member of the Board of Directors of Livable California, I sent the attached letter, written on behalf of our Board, to Governor Gavin Newsom, which was delivered last week. While it remains to be seen whether it will have an impact on the Governor’s decision to veto AB 1487, we will not rest until we can turn around the false narrative that is fueling so many misguided housing bills this year.
Dear Governor Newsom,
On behalf of Livable California, a non-profit organization of over 6,000 members who are committed to the wise planning and appropriate growth of California's communities, we urge you to veto SB 330 for the following reasons:
- SB 330 severely lacks clarity. It will only add confusion and complexity to existing and pending laws governing planning and housing.
- SB 330 is trying to solve the wrong problem. We don't have a housing-at-any-cost problem, we have a housing affordability crisis. Yet this bill will be used by developers to overdevelop our communities and neighborhoods while maximizing the production of upper market rate housing while producing a tiny fraction of truly affordable housing.
- SB 330 will stifle public input on the development of our communities. Its limitations on holding no more than 5 public hearings on development projects, combined with the severe time constraints it imposes on the processing of project applications, will blunt public involvement while inevitably silencing the most vulnerable and diverse communities.
- SB 330 will speed up high-end housing developments while failing to address the need for affordable housing. Not one single affordable housing unit would be created by this legislation. Instead it would place developers in charge of the planning and zoning of our communities.
- SB 330 threatens the fiscal solvency of local governments. Forcing more housing into local communities that don't have the infrastructure or resources needed to sustain it, combined with its stiff financial penalties against cities who can't afford expanding the infrastructure to support it, will wreak economic havoc upon our local communities.
- SB 330 is one dimensional in wrongly blaming cities for the housing crisis. What about the rapidly escalating high costs of construction materials and labor? What about high-growth corporations creating more high paying jobs while doing nothing about housing their workers? What about the lack of infrastructure and resources that too many of our communities can't afford to expand to accommodate more housing?
- SB 330 does nothing to address the real driver behind the housing crisis: the jobs/housing imbalance. This is the real issue that should be the focus of state legislation instead of laws that just punish our local communities.
In closing, solely blaming local governments for the housing crisis is simply a false narrative. Many of our cities are providing timely approvals of housing projects. For example, one of the City Council members of the City of San Mateo has noted it has approved all housing projects that have been considered over the last 10 years.
Local government actions usually improve the quality of projects to gain their acceptance in the community. Cities also use the entitlement process to ensure adequate infrastructure is provided to serve development projects. Eliminating or abbreviating this process so developers can build without regard to impacts to our communities will adversely affect the quality of life in many cities and their neighborhoods. We need to find a better way to find real solutions to the housing crisis.
Governor Newsom, we applaud your efforts to expand the state's supply of truly affordable housing, but SB 330 isn't the way to do it. While signing it into law may "look" like the state is doing something about the affordable housing crisis, it ignores the true causes behind that crisis while placing unfair burdens upon our local communities.
Please veto SB 330.
T.Keith Gurnee – Livable California Board of Directors