A construction worker builds a home in Petaluma in March, 2017.

A construction worker builds a home in Petaluma in March 2017. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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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.

Gov. Jerry Brown stands with state lawmakers in San Francisco after signing a package of housing legislation on Friday, Sept. 29, 2017.
Gov. Jerry Brown stands with state lawmakers in San Francisco after signing a package of housing legislation on Friday, Sept. 29, 2017. (Guy Marzorati/KQED)

“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.”

Governor Signs ’15 Good Bills’ Aimed at California’s Housing Crisis 29 September,2017Guy Marzorati

  • Babanui

    This is bad news, what it means is individual counties like Marin are supposed to let developers slap up all kinds of crummy expensive apartment units in an already built out area. The only place to put these units now in Marin is in noisy downtown areas above retail stores, a place where nobody ever wanted to live before, and right next to noisy polluted freeways, again where nobody ever wanted to live before.
    And these are not affordable apartments, the rent is $4,000 per month on up for a two bedroom unit right on the freeway.
    And, these will be new imported residents that get suckered into renting those expensive units, and they will all have to commute out of Marin every day to jobs that pay enough to pay that rent.
    They canned the redevelopment agencies and are now replacing it with this corrupt mess, is there really a housing shortage ?, or is actually a money shortage ?

    • Abridged Crasher

      This is good news, because every individual counties are going have to acknowledge that their down towns are their lifeline, so they have to build vertically up. So they said “built out because of human scale of views”,except it’ll change faster then the surburbs.
      Well these new residents already know they’ll have to pay more anyway. Because of the obvious time acknowledgement of price that these “expensive” apartments are built up every year. Will become affordable in a time shift of their new life within the far fetched futuristic history. Also Marin has to basically build midrises to high rises with downtown access to mass transit to counter the noisy polluted freeways with a wall of plants facing the freeway. There’s a catch that not all will have to commute because there’s jobs in that was shunned/ignored like vocational because of what reasons?
      “They’re infilling a whatever gap that canned the redevelopment agencies”. Housing and money go hand in hand.

      • solodoctor

        It is good or bad news depending on how the local officials deal with proposals for these kinds of developments. How will they allow for parking for these new residents? How will they allow/arrange for the increased auto traffic that more residents in a downtown area will bring? How will they promote public transportation in, around, and through these downtown areas? Just building MORE units without also planning for and accommodating these other issues will make for more density and a lower quality of life for everyone.

        Eg, the city of Oakland recently approved a 24 story residential building project which is supposed to have some number of affordable units. It argued that the fact that the project is in very close proximity to the MacArthur BART station will mean that traffic and parking impact will be minimal. I beg to disagree. Not all those new residents will be using BART or ACT for transportation. How will Telegraph Ave, 40th Street, and other streets close by deal with the added auto traffic?!? Will there be enough underground parking for ALL the residents to park their cars?

        The devil will be in the details which the cities and local planning boards have to deal with as to how these kinds of projects affect the community in which they are located.


Guy Marzorati

Guy Marzorati is a reporter and producer for KQED News, the California Report and KQED’s California Politics and Government Desk. Guy joined KQED in 2013. He grew up in New York and graduated from Santa Clara University. Email: GMarzorati@KQED.org