San Diego

Newsom’s Top Housing Adviser Says ‘Start With Yes’

With a key legislative deadline subsequent week, Newsom’s housing adviser speaks in regards to the governor’s priorities on reasonably priced housing. The huge takeaway: California is tens of millions of housing items brief, and cities maintain the important thing.

Gov. Gavin Newsom has repeatedly made housing affordability a prime precedence of his administration. But getting a superb learn on his considering could be troublesome.

During a panel dialogue hosted by Capitol Weekly on Wednesday, Jason Elliott, Newsom’s prime advisor on housing and homelessness, supplied a glimpse. The huge takeaway: California is tens of millions of housing items brief, and cities maintain the important thing.

“We have the wrong reflex around housing in the state. We start with no. No, we shouldn’t build there,” Elliott mentioned. “Let’s start with yes, unless there’s a reason not to build.”

Getting cities and counties to say sure to housing is a protracted battle in California. To transfer the needle, Elliott pitched the statewide Housing Accountability Unit, which Newsom proposed in his January budget. With a proposed finances of $4.3 million, the unit would maintain cities’ ft to the hearth after they break current housing legislation, and assist them make the most of legal guidelines already in place that streamline laws and permits.

One instance: a 2013 legislation designed to increase infill development in “green zones,” which Elliott mentioned may probably permit for tens of millions of housing items to be constructed.

So what of the slew of housing payments on the state Capitol? Some coverage payments face a key deadline subsequent week, however Elliott declined to touch upon particular payments, together with Senate Bill 9, which might permit owners to place a duplex on single-family tons or cut up them. He mentioned the governor would typically help any transfer to vary the default to sure on extra housing.

He additionally emphasised that simply as essential as passing new laws is implementing legal guidelines already on the books. “A governor’s signature does not build new units,” he mentioned.

Elliott mentioned he was watching “with glee” the Biden administration’s $5 billion proposal as a part of his infrastructure plan to encourage local governments to end exclusionary zoning and different practices. “We’re heading down the same path here,” Elliott mentioned.

Elliott sidestepped one other question, about whether or not the administration would search to increase the statewide eviction moratorium, which is ready to finish June 30, because the state doubles its lease reduction funds with an extra $2.6 billion from the federal authorities. The state has struggled to get tenants and landlords to enroll in current advantages. As a end result, the state has introduced it would simplify the method to get more money out the door faster.

“A moratorium until the end of time that doesn’t provide a sufficient benefit to get people to enroll,” Elliott mentioned, trailing off. “We need people to enroll. That’s goal number one.”

Elliott mentioned the almost-certain recall going through Newsom later this year is not affecting his positions on housing, both, pointing to the governor’s 2020 State of the State speech, the place housing and homelessness took heart stage. He highlighted $12 billion in the governor’s budget proposal for housing and homelessness and $1.75 billion to kick-start constructing on greater than 6,000 of backlogged reasonably priced housing items.

Elliott mentioned that whereas the state can build housing for folks experiencing homelessness and the very poor, the non-public sector is crucial to easing the housing scarcity.

“It’s not really realistic to assume we’re going to subsidize our way out of this,” Elliott mentioned. “Which is why we need the private sector to do what it does, which is to build housing.”

Elliott was joined on the digital panel, moderated by CalMatters, by Jennifer Svec, legislative advocate for the California Association of Realtors; Assemblymember Buffy Wicks, a Democrat from the East Bay; and Adam Fowler, analysis director at Beacon Economics, all of whom agreed {that a} provide scarcity was largely responsible for ballooning home prices. In the Bay Area, the median dwelling worth soared to an all-time excessive of $1.3 million and the statewide median dwelling worth broke $800,000 final month.

“It’s not really realistic to assume we’re going to subsidize our way out of this. Which is why we need the private sector to do what it does, which is to build housing.”
jason elliott, housing adviser to gov. newsom

Some different highlights from the dialogue:

On dwelling costs, Svec kept away from calling California’s housing market a “bubble.” She expects the housing market will stay far more secure this time round than after the 2008 foreclosures disaster, and would not count on costs to drop anytime quickly.

The State Building and Construction Trades Council has pushed to incorporate a requirement in housing payments that will power the brand new items to be constructed with union labor. Many reasonably priced housing builders argue there simply is not the accessible workforce in order that mandate would solely enhance the price of development.

In response, Fowler agreed that California, like the remainder of the nation, faces a extreme scarcity of labor, “union or otherwise.” But with so many different price drivers — akin to skyrocketing lumber costs — wages aren’t the issue.

“You can’t bid high enough on labor to get the folks you need so it’s kind of a moot point for the foreseeable future,” he mentioned. “Workforce development for those skilled trades is going to be so essential.”

On the eviction moratorium, Wicks mentioned she was working intently with Assemblymember David Chiu’s office to ensure tenants are protected however landlords obtain missed again lease.

“Hopefully we’re starting to see more economic recovery coming out of COVID, although I do think it’s going to be a very uneven recovery,” she mentioned. “I think it’s going to disproportionately impact low-income communities, Black and brown communities, so making sure people use the benefit I think is key.”

With a finances surplus bonanza, Gov. Newsom requires spending $12 billion extra to finish homelessness in California. One concept: increasing motel conversions, an emergency plan throughout the pandemic.

by Manuela Tobias
May 12, 2021


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