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Huntington Beach mayor’s town hall tackles local housing issues

Huntington Beach mayor’s town hall tackles local housing issues
Huntington Beach Mayor Mike Posey, center, discusses local housing issues Saturday with, from right, Michael Ruane of National Community Renaissance, Cori Williams of Townsend Public Affairs and Heather Stratman of the Orange County chapter of the Assn. of California Cities. (Photo by Bradley Zint)

Huntington Beach Mayor Mike Posey held a town hall meeting Saturday focusing on housing issues, particularly legislation in Sacramento meant to encourage affordable options statewide.

The session featured presentations from Heather Stratman, chief executive of the Orange County chapter of the Assn. of California Cities; Cori Williams, Southern California director of Townsend Public Affairs, a legislative advocacy group; and Michael Ruane, executive vice president of National Community Renaissance, a Rancho Cucamonga-based nonprofit affordable housing developer.

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The panelists summarized some of the 15 bills passed last year in the state Legislature meant to increase the supply and affordability of housing in California.

Analysts say California needs 180,000 new homes each year to keep up with its population increases. Last year's slew of bills is expected to result in a fraction of that amount, but that's better than nothing, Williams said.

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She said a bond going before voters in November and a new real estate fee could produce 14,000 new homes a year.

Posey, who became mayor in December, said he felt the Legislature's recent moves are hurting Huntington Beach by loosening the city's control on how it approves development. He didn't go into specifics but characterized the bills as "the first shot across the bow" toward Surf City losing local control as a charter city.

Stratman said affordable housing is a common issue among Orange County cities. She said an estimated 26,000 children in the county live without secure housing, instead living in garages, cars or going couch to couch.

Orange County's high cost of living and strong job market continually cause many people to commute in from neighboring areas such as San Bernardino, Riverside and San Diego counties. The long commute takes a toll on employers and employees, Stratman said.

She urged the community to support a "YIMBY" sentiment — "Yes in my backyard" — as opposed to the more traditional NIMBY viewpoint.

Stratman said her group is working on a model ordinance for Orange County cities to support short-term rentals, which some property owners say are essential for them to afford their properties.

Twitter: @BradleyZint

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