October 2017 – This Month in Sacramento
THIS MONTH IN SACRAMENTO – OCTOBER 2017 NEWSLETTER
by Richard Markuson
Region 9 Legislative Advocate
The Legislature returned from their summer recess on August 21 for the final month of this first year of the Legislative session.
Top on their list of things to finish is addressing California’s declining affordable housing stock.
A package of bills has put various solutions into play. They include:
- Assembly Bill 73 (Chiu D) that allows a city or county to create a housing sustainability district (HSD) to complete upfront zoning and environmental review in order to receive incentive payments for development projects that are consistent with the district’s ordinance. The concession to labor? All construction workers employed in the execution of the project shall be paid at least the general prevailing wage.
- Senate Bill 2 (Atkins D), would impose costs of $200 million to $300 million annually on contractors and others who record documents in order to build relatively few new housing units.
- Senate Bill 3 (Beall D), Enacts the Veterans and Affordable Housing Bond Act of 2018 andauthorizes the issuance of $4 billion in general obligation (GO) bonds for affordable housing, subject to approval by the voters, in the November 6, 2018 election. Until recently the bill was just the Affordable Housing Bond Act of 2018 but adding a billion dollars for veterans improves the polling.
- Senate Bill 35 (Weiner D) Creates a streamlined, ministerial approval process for development proponents of multi-family housing if the development meets specified requirements and the local government in which the development is located has not produced enough housing units to meet its regional housing needs assessment (RNHA). Labor gift? If the project is not a public work, all construction workers employed in the execution of the project will be paid at least the general prevailing rate of per diem wages for the type of work and geographic area, as determined by the Director of Industrial Relations. Plus they obtained PLA language.
- Senate Bill 540 (Roth D) Authorizes a city or county to establish a Workforce Housing Opportunity Zone by preparing an environmental impact report to identify and mitigate impacts from establishing a zone, and adopting a specific plan, and provides for expedited approvals of housing development projects within that zone. Labor obtained similar language as in SB 35–
Buts as columnist Joe Matthews described the package in his blog,
“The bad news is: there’s very little housing in this housing package. The new funding will produce only a tiny fraction of the affordable housing Californians need. And given the economic and regulatory pressures on housing, such housing won’t be produced quickly or cheaply. The bills leave in place the tax, environmental, and regulatory regimes that add so much to the expense and difficulty of building housing in the state. And in some places, legislators have offered goodies, in the form of wage and other protections to labor interests to get their buy-in. Such incentives may add to the cost of housing, when the state desperately needs to make housing cheaper. The way that the building trades, in particular, have leveraged this crisis would be shameful, if organized labor in this state were still capable of shame.”
NFIB State Director Tom Scott echoed opposition to the approach the Democratic-led Legislature was trying to address the crisis.
“Unfortunately, Senate Bill 2 (Atkins), Senate Bill 3 (Beall), and Senate Bill 35 (Weiner) do nothing to address these fundamental economic realities, but instead raise more taxes on struggling small businesses and working families, put California further into debt, and drastically raise labor costs to build a home.”
ASCE supported AB 1523 (Obernolte R) that will authorize the San Bernardino County Transportation Authority to use the design-build contracting process for local agencies was approved by Governor Brown.
ASCE supported AB 56 (Holden D) that clarifies the definition of housing-related infrastructure for the purposes of programs administered through the California Infrastructure and Economic Development Bank (IBank), including projects funded through the Infrastructure State Revolving Fund (ISRF), was approved by the Legislature and sent to Governor Brown.
ASCE supported AB 994 (Muratsuchi D) that clarifies the definition of housing-related infrastructure for the purposes of programs administered through the California Infrastructure and Economic Development Bank (IBank), including projects funded through the Infrastructure State Revolving Fund (ISRF), was approved by the Legislature and sent to Governor Brown.
ASCE supported SB 373 (Cannella R) that will authorize the Stanislaus Regional Water Authority to utilize design-build to construct a surface water supply project was sent to Governor Brown.
UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center released Tahoe: State of the Lake Report 2017 It summarizes data collected in 2016 as part of the center’s ongoing, decades-long measurement program, while also presenting research driven by important questions of the day. This includes how drought has impacted Tahoe’s forests, the lake’s response to increasing levels of algae on the shoreline, climate change, and invasive species. It also takes a look at what new technologies, including autonomous underwater vehicles, are finding in the deepest parts of the lake.” Highlights of the report include a survey of dead and dying trees, climate change, boats, clams, algal growth, precipitation and clarity levels.
Office of Policy Development and Research (PD&R), U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development released Worst Case Housing Needs 2017 Report. This Worst Case Housing Needs report is the sixteenth in a longstanding series providing national data and analysis of the critical problems facing very low-income renting families. Households with worst case needs are defined as very low-income renters who do not receive government housing assistance and who paid more than one-half of their income for rent, lived in severely inadequate conditions, or both. The report draws on data from the 2015 American Housing Survey (AHS)…. We find that benefits of the strengthening national economy are not adequately flowing to renter households at the lowest income levels and severe housing problems are on the rise.
Public Policy Institute of California released PPIC Statewide Survey: Californians and the Environment. “Strong majorities of California adults (72%) and likely voters (66%) favor the state law passed last year that requires the state to reduce emissions to 40% below 1990 levels by the year 2030. Overwhelming majorities of Democrats (84%) and independents (71%) and 42% of Republicans support the law. Majorities across the state’s regions and racial/ethnic groups are in favor. Half of Californians believe that the state’s actions to reduce global warming will result in more jobs in the future (22% fewer jobs, 19% no effect on jobs) Among likely voters, 49% say the result will be more jobs…. Most Californians (56%) say they have heard nothing about the (cap and trade) system…. After hearing a short description of the system, 56% of adults and 49% of likely voters are in favor—a high point for support since PPIC began asking about cap and trade in 2009.”
Caltrans released 2018 Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program Guidelines, Discussion Draft. The California Department of Transportation has recently released a discussion draft of the 2018 Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program Guidelines. This program provides capital improvement grants for the modernization of California intercity, commuter and urban rail systems, with the goal of reducing congestion and vehicle miles travelled in the state. As part of the program update, there will be two informal workshops on Aug 18th in Los Angeles and August 21st in Sacramento. This will be followed by the release of a formal draft to the Legislature on August 28th
Governor Brown has made the following appointments:
Paul Van Konynenburg, of Modesto, has been appointed to the California Transportation Commission. Van Konynenburg has been managing partner at Britton Konynenburg Partners since 1993. He was an associate at Velthoen Associates Commercial Real Estate from 1990 to 1992. Van Konynenburg is a member of the Opportunity Stanislaus Board of Directors.
Nancy C. Miller of Sacramento, has been appointed to the California High-Speed Rail Authority Board of Directors. Miller has been a partner at Renne Sloan Holtzman Sakai LLP since 2015. She was president at Miller, Owen & Trost from 1992 to 2015, where she was principal and shareholder from 1983 to 1991 and a partner from 1979 to 1982. Miller is a member of the University of California, Hastings College of the Law Board of Trustees and KVIE Public Television Board of Directors. She earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law.