California lawmakers pass bill to place $4 billion bond on 2018 ballot

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LOS ANGELES -- The California legislature passed a package of bills Thursday targeting the state's housing crisis -- including one that would raise $15 billion in state and federal funding to kick start construction of thousands of affordable housing units.

Senate Bill 3, authored by Senator Jim Beall, D-San Jose, ask voters to authorize $4 billion of bonds that he said could leverage nearly $11 billion more in federal tax credits, he said.

"The lack of housing is holding our economy hostage -- pricing working families, millennials, seniors, and vets out of the market for apartments and homes," Beall said. "SB 3 will help reverse this trend."

Voters in November 2018 would be asked to approve $3 billion in general obligation bonds for affordable housing plus a $1 billion authorization to extend the CalVet Home Loan Program for veterans, which was slated to expire in 2018.

Other bills in the package approved Thursday were Senate Bill 166 and Senate Bill SB 167, authored by Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley.

Senate Bill 166 strengthens California’s "No Net Loss" zoning law and Senate Bill 167 strengthens the Housing Accountability Act, she said.

“Once a community has completed its planning and zoning process, housing proposals that play by the rules deserve to get a green light,” stated Senator Skinner. “And with the current supply crisis, local governments need to make sure that housing gets built on the sites identified for housing.”

Senate Bill 166 would require local governments to immediately identify a replacement site if a project that differs from the housing category originally designated is approved and require that the replacement site must meet the specific housing affordability level that was lost.

To help ensure that housing proposals that meet zoning and land use requirements aren’t thwarted Senate Bill 167 adds teeth to the state’s Housing Accountability Act, Skinner said. Specifically, SB 167 increases the burden of proof that a local agency has to meet to deny a project, awards damages to plaintiffs if a local government is found to be acting in “bad faith,” and allows courts to leverage fines on cities that are not in compliance with the Housing Accountability Act.

“The goals of SB 167 and SB 166 are to remove barriers to housing construction and increase housing development across all affordability levels,” said Senator Skinner. “Strengthening existing law is central to meeting those goals and to combat our housing crisis.”

The bills now move to Gov. Jerry Brown's desk for signing.

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