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California Legislature

Ahead of final week, California lawmakers change bills to garner support for housing package

Assemblyman Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield) (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)
Assemblyman Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield) (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

A package of bills to address California’s housing affordability crisis inched forward late last week ahead of a do-or-die week in the Legislature.

Lawmakers introduced or changed two bills aimed at attracting support for key parts of the housing package from wary colleagues and Gov. Jerry Brown.

SB 2 from Sen. Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) would charge a $75 fee on mortgage refinances and other real estate transactions other than home sales and use the estimated $250 million raised a year to help finance low-income housing construction. But Atkins has struggled to secure the two-thirds supermajority vote of the Assembly needed. No Democrats in the Assembly can vote against the measure for it to pass.

Late Friday, Assemblyman Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield) authored a new bill, AB 166, that would allow low-income residents to bypass the $75 fee. Salas, who was the only Democrat in the Assembly to vote no on a gas-tax increase earlier this year, was also considered a potential holdout on SB 2. It was unclear if the introduction of AB 166 is enough to secure SB 2’s passage. 

Also late Friday, Assemblyman Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica) changed his legislation, AB 1505, which would allow cities to force developers to set aside a certain number of homes in their projects for low-income residents.  

Brown has long opposed the policy, vetoing a similar bill in 2013 and saying the policy generally makes it harder to attract development to low- and middle-income communities.

The changes to the bill would allow the state Department of Housing and Community Development to review proposed local ordinances to ensure that the cities don't use these rules to block all development.

On Twitter, Bloom characterized the amendments as minor:

Other major housing legislation lawmakers are considering include a $4-billion bond for the 2018 ballot to finance low-income development and provide home loans for veterans, and new rules aimed at easing local development regulations. The deadline for all bills to pass both houses of the Legislature is Friday.

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