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Santa Monica Legislator's Affordable Housing Bill Clears Key Senate Committee


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By Lookout Staff

June 7, 2017 -- Legislation co-authored by Santa Monica Assemblyman Richard Bloom that would restore the authority of local governments to require affordable rental units took another step closer to becoming law Tuesday.

The bill, AB 1505, which is one of a number of proposed laws to address California's affordable housing crisis, was approved by a 7-4 vote by the Senate Committee on Transportation and Housing. The bill now heads to the Senate Floor.

“Housing costs across the state have increased exponentially and absent corrective action there is no end in sight,” said Bloom, a former Santa Monica mayor.

“Given our state’s severe housing crisis, it is critical that we give local governments every tool to address affordable housing needs," he said. "This bill returns one of our most important and effective tools.”

The loss of local authority was the unintended result of a 2009 appellate court decision in favor of a Los Angeles developer who claimed that the affordable housing requirement violated the 1994 Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act.

AB 1505, Bloom's office said, "does not give local governments any new authority that they did not have prior to 2009, nor does it constrain or dictate in any way what local inclusionary policies should look like."

Under the bill, "inclusionary housing remains a local decision, with input from local stakeholders, to determine what mix of policies, if any, make sense for their community."

Some 170 cities and counties, including Santa Monica, have some form of inclusionary housing policy, a practice that dates back to the late 1970s.

The policies have "proven to be effective tools for producing affordable housing to working families and creating strong, diverse neighborhoods with a range of housing options," according to Bloom's office.

After the 2009 court ruling, some local jurisdictions with affordable housing requirements continued trying to meet them, but they were skeptical of putting new mandates on construction, according to Bloom's staff.

Santa Monica, for example, continued its efforts to meet the provisions of a 1990 law approved by local voters requiring that at least 30 percent of new multifamily housing constructed every year be affordable.

The City, however, has regularly failed to deliver on its affordable housing requirements ("Construction of Affordable Housing in Santa Monica Expected to Drop Again," February 7, 2017).

Meeting the local mandate became more challenging after 2012, when the state dissolved some 400 redevelopment agencies, including Santa Monica's, which generated most of the City's affordable housing funds.

Currently, the City relies on the development agreement process, which grants variances to developers in exchange for community benefits, to help fund the construction of affordable housing.


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