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|Santa Monica Legislator’s Affordable Housing Bill Passes Assembly|
By Jonathan Friedman
May 5, 2017 -- A bill co-authored by Santa Monica Democratic Assemblyman Richard Bloom that would allow local governments to require developments include affordable units was approved by the State Assembly on Thursday.
"Housing costs across the state have increased exponentially and absent corrective action there is no end in sight," said Bloom in a statement on Thursday.
Until 2009, cities were allowed to require at least a certain number of affordable units be included in developments.
An attempt to change the law to get around the court ruling was made in 2013 via a bill introduced by then-Assemblywoman Toni Atkins. Both chambers of the California Legislature approved the bill, but Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed it.
“In Santa Monica we have literally thousands of new housing units in the pipeline, and our challenge is matching affordability to the needs of working families lest our community gentrify beyond recognition," he told The Lookout in 2013.
The new bill will have no impact on Santa Monica, which has a requirement approved by voters in 1990 that no less than 30 pecent of new multifamily housing constructed every year be affordable.
Cities with affordable housing requirements "continued to move forward with" them but "were skeptical of putting new mandates on construction," said Bloom's chief of staff Sean MacNeil.
"Everyone was on pause for six years," MacNeil said.
Santa Monica, which relied on money from its redevelopment agency before the state dissolved such agencies, has failed to deliver on its affordable housing requirements ("Construction of Affordable Housing in Santa Monica Expected to Drop Again," February 7, 2017).
The City relies on the development agreement process, which grants variances to developers in exchange for community benefits, including the construction of affordable housing.
Although at this time Santa Monica cannot have an official policy requiring affordable units, there is a loophole. Through the development agreement process, which grants variances to developers in exchange for community benefits, the City can make affordable housing demands.
Bloom’s bill is one of many that has been introduced this year in Sacramento that attempt to increase the amount of affordable housing in California.
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