Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a package of legislation to ease California’s housing crunch, answering years of calls for a strong state response to skyrocketing home prices and rents.
The bills signed Friday combine new funding for housing construction with new rules to streamline the development process.
“It is a big challenge. We have risen to it this year,” said Brown, who put his signature on what he called “15 good bills” at a ceremony in San Francisco’s Hunters Point neighborhood.
New funding for housing construction, rental assistance and homeless programs will come from a housing bond (if voters approve it next year) and a fee on certain real estate transactions, like a mortgage refinancing.
Streamlining rules will make it harder for local governments to block certain housing developments, if they have failed to meet previous goals for approving units.
“We gotta figure out a way to streamline, and we’re doing that in these bills,” Brown added. He said government needs to subsidize housing in markets where prices have spiraled out of control.
In speeches celebrating the bills signed, legislators revealed details of the delicate process that culminated with Friday’s signing ceremony.
Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León said San Francisco state Sen. Scott Wiener “squatted in my office every single day,” as lawmakers worked on a housing deal that could pass both houses and win the governor’s approval.
Assemblyman David Chiu, D-San Francisco recounted the governor showing up unexpectedly in his office to promise a group of Assembly members that the housing package would get done.
Housing advocates and mayors from the state’s largest cities attended the ceremony, and urged the Legislature to continue its work addressing the issue next year.
Brown begrudgingly agreed.
“Have [the bills] ended the need for further legislation? Unfortunately not,” Brown said.
He then pleaded, “Not so many bills next year, guys.”