California just added baby teeth to its housing laws
They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit.”–Isaiah 65:21
Jill worked very hard to help the city of Pasadena to craft one of the best Housing Elements in the state. The HE sets guidelines so that cities can meet their housing goals for different income levels, based on the Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA). Currently cities are required to plan to meet these goals (through zoning and other means); they aren’t required to actually meet them. And if they don’t plan for these goals, there are few consequences. The Governor’s latest bill provides some teeth-the LA Times calls them “baby teeth”–to enforce these laws. This is a baby step in the right direction. We need laws that will encourage people to “build houses and inhabit them” rather than prevent housing from being built in order to preserve the “character” of a city.
In January, not even a week into his new job, Gov. Gavin Newsom made a big, bold threat to cities that have stalled or shirked their responsibility to build enough housing to meet their community’s needs.
Don’t build housing? You won’t get state transportation dollars, the governor warned.
Six months later, Newsom is settling for a more incremental, but still necessary, change. The Legislature is expected to sign off this week on a bill that would allow a judge to impose steep fines — up to $600,000 a month — on cities that willfully flout the state’s “fair share” housing law, which requires that jurisdictions plan and zone for enough market-rate and affordable housing to meet population growth.
Note one big difference: Newsom originally wanted to hold cities responsible for actually producing enough housing to meet state goals. The compromise with the Legislature merely requires them to plan for enough housing.