INTRO and ACTION
AB 1487 (Chiu) will create a nine-county SF Bay Area Regional Finance Authority, with authority to impose, collect, and distribute tax dollars for housing. AB1487 will reduce local authority and transfer it to this new agency governed by MTC. It has a big price tag (regional taxation) and little benefit to Marin and other small communities and
counties without giant tech companies. Some specific shortcomings of the bill are listed in my letter below. It is one of many poor policy
housing bills and there's still time to
kill the bill.
- The Senate Committee on Governance and Finance will hear AB1487 on Wednesday, July 10 at 9:30 am.
- Link to the bill: https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=201920200AB1487
- AB1487 got out of Assembly with a vote of Ayes 45. Noes 21.
- Letters won't be listed in the Committee packet, but Committee staff told me they will still have influence.
- Senate Committee members have expressed reservations:
- Senators McGuire, Chair - Little benefit to Marin, Napa, Sonoma counties;
- Moorlach, Vice-Chair - fiscally conservative R from SoCA; seemed unenthusiastic at previous hearing;
- Beall - potential benefit to Santa Clara, but SB5 is his own plan for providing funds for affordable housing, without starting up a new regional agency staffed by MTC;
- Hertzberg - in a district next to Portantino's; when we met with him he wasn't keen on Wiener's solutions to the housing problems. Voted against SB50 in this committee on April 24;
- Hurtado - Fresno/Bakersfield; probably not keen to set state policy if she knows Bay Area locals have come out against it;
- Nielsen - Yolo County (R) - emphasize AB1487 funds bureaucrats, not workers. Bad fiscal policy for the Bay Area is bad policy for the state;
- Wiener is deeply entrenched with YIMBYs, Silicon Valley Leadership, Bay Area Council, corporate global biz.
Action: Please take one or more of these actions:
- Submit a letter of Opposition before Tuesday at noon.
- Monday or Tuesday, call Senator Mike McGuire, Chair of the Committee - 415-479-6612. Urge a no vote.
- Monday or Tuesday, call the Senate Gov & Finance Committee - 916-651-4119. Urge a no vote.
Use this link to find the tab "Submit Position Letter" https://sgf.senate.ca.gov/. Be sure to sign it.
AB 1487 - OPPOSE
July 7, 2019
Dear Senate Governance & Finance Committee:
Senators McGuire, Chair; Moorlach, V-Chair; Beall, Hertzberg, Hurtado, Nielsen, and Wiener
My name is Susan Kirsch. I’m the founder of Livable California, a coalition of elected officials and community leaders from throughout the nine-county Bay Area and reaching throughout the state.
I urge you to oppose AB 1487.
- AB 1487 creates a regional finance authority without substantiating the need, weighing the solution against other alternatives, or demonstrating that a regional agency provides the superior approach to solving our state’s housing problem.
- AB 1487 creates additional bureaucracy and taxation without representation. It extracts scarce financial resources from individuals, communities, counties, businesses, and laborers and allocates it to an agency (MTC) with a track record of fiscal recklessness, cost overruns, and mismanagement.
- AB 1487 places unfair burdens on small cities and counties in the Bay Area, without addressing the jobs/housing imbalance and corporate responsibility to do more to address income inequity. In 2017, annual revenue for all 482 California cities was $77.5 billion. On the other hand, Google's parent company Alphabet had total revenues of $110.8 billion; just one of the global tech giants in Silicon Valley.
- AB 1487 accelerates special advantage and special benefit to big cities and tech giants. They gain their position by manipulating public opinion with unevenly represented working groups and well-financed media campaigns about the “housing crisis.” AB 1487 bestows generous benefits to cities with excessively wealthy tech companies.
- AB 1487 portends diminished truth and transparency. In just the past month, backers have changed the purpose of AB1487 from establishing a “Housing Alliance” to creating a “Housing Finance Authority” without time for ABAG to weigh in or to gather public comment.
- AB 1487 would rely on MTC as the governing board and as the agency responsible for staffing. Based on MTC’s track record for lack of transparency, fiscal recklessness and its history of conflict with ABAG, it is an invitation for further reckless management. (For elaboration, see the letter from Albany City Council member Michael Barns, speaking for himself).
- AB 1487 would rely on the ABAG Executive Board as the Executive Board of the Housing Finance Authority. This arrangement raises basic questions re: conflicts of interest. What expertise does the ABAG Executive Board have that qualifies it to (1) review and approve housing projects and (2) establish, increase, or impose commercial linkage fees. . . by enactment of a resolution to fund housing projects (64621(a)(1).
- The AB 1487 funding mechanisms are regressive. Without caps, criteria, or clarification the proposed parcel tax and gross receipts business license tax will dramatically add to the already high costs of living in the Bay Area without providing commensurate benefit.
- This boondoggle of a bill is given five years (!) after the voters approve it before there is (a) an analysis of expenditures, (b) a report on the number of affordable housing units produced or preserved, or (c) the tenant protection services provided. This is woefully inadequate.
AB 1487 and other housing bills of the CASA Compact contribute to the “financialization of housing” which increases corporate-owned housing for investor benefit, not individual or public benefit. It weakens an invested middle-class and adequate land use planning and the funding for infrastructure such as schools, safety, parks and water.
In 2017, the United Nations Human Rights Council warned the financialization of housing “undermines democratic governance, exacerbates inequality, dehumanizes housing, and causes displacement and homelessness.”
Thank you for your thoughtful deliberation. I urge you to oppose AB 1487.Susan Kirsch
Livable California, Founder
We have a housing problem, but the crisis is abandoning democratic principles of locally-elected officials representing constituents.