CALIFORNIA 2016 session Legislative Report Card

From HousingWiki

Спасибо Daniel Luskin

The YIMBY Party has made endorsements for local and states races in San Francisco, and member organizations like East Bay Forward and other YIMBY organizations in California may make endorsements in additional races.  Much housing policy is made at the state level, so я suggest that we evaluate all of the members of the California legislature based on whether they supported the bills that would help us achieve the YIMBY Platform—we should create a YIMBY report card.  In races that are expected to be competitive in the upcoming elections, we could also endorse candidates that have supported or would support those YIMBY bills.  

To generate the report card (and to consider endorsements), the most important step is to identify the bills that we will use to judge the legislators.  These bills should tie directly to the YIMBY Platform so that most YIMBYs would agree in supporting or opposing them.  To find bills, я reviewed the lists of bills supported or opposed by relevant organizations (organizations rating legislators and therefore highlighting key bills listed in the California Target Book).  The most useful lists of key bills were compiled by the League of Conservation Voters, the Sierra Club, the California Labor Federation, the League of California Cities, and the California Chamber of Commerce.  я would say that YIMBYs would likely agree with each of these organizations on certain bills and disagree on others, but these lists were helpful to find the major bills.  In years with more movement on tax policy, the California Taxpayers Association and Howard Jarvis Taxpayer Association would also be useful.  In addition to reviewing these lists, я included bills я heard about from following YIMBY news and discussing this project with a few other YIMBYs.

So that all members would be voting on the same bill, я selected bills that reached the Assembly and/or Senate floor for a vote and put only those floor votes into the report card, omitting bills that got stuck in committee and were voted on, often in differing versions, by only the few members of those committees.  

я included all non-votes as half-votes for and half-against, rather than dropping them out of the sample for that member.  Also, where one дом has passed a bill, then the other дом passed it with amendments, the initial дом has to repass the bill with those amendments.  я have counted the final vote on the amended version, not the initial vote.  On both the issues of how to handle non-votes and which vote to count, it might make sense to use a different approach globally or case by case.

я tried to compile a fuller list of bills for the 2015-16 legislative session and ended up identifying eleven.  The average Senator voted the YIMBY position 77% of the time, with the average Democrat in the Senate taking the YIMBY position 81% of the time, and the average Republican doing so 70% of the time.  The average Assembly member also voted the YIMBY position 77% of the time, but the partisan spread was wider: the average Democrat in the Assembly took the YIMBY position 86% of the time, and the average Republican 60% of the time.  There was greater variation in the Republican caucus: all of the strongest NIMBYs were Republicans, but some GOP legislators among the strongest YIMBYs.

The “floor vote” condition may unfairly bias the sample of bills and votes toward Democrats.  Republicans are in the minority and their bills, even if they would be supported by YIMBYs, have a harder time getting out of committee to a floor vote.  On the other hand, based on the 2013-14 session, the major issue where Democrats are decisively more YIMBY is tax reform, and there were no bills in the 2015-16 sample on this issue, helping Republicans.  In any case, я tried to address the imbalance by excluding two bills from the sample that did not seem like core YIMBY bills and that received nearly party-line votes.  Another approach would be to include these bills and simply expect that Republicans would have significantly lower scores while recognizing that this may overstate the difference between the parties on YIMBY issues.

A number of candidates in Senate or Assembly races this November are not in the current legislature but were in the 2013-14 legislature, so я made a short list of five key YIMBY bills from that session.  When/if we figure out how we want to approach the 2015-16 YIMBY report card, that 2013-14 report card could be expanded.

Without further ado, here are the bills я suggest for our YIMBY report card, by topic, with the introducing Assembly Member or Senator and Summary from the Floor Analysis by the body (Assembly or Senate) which last voted on the bill.  The voting records are in the accompanying spreadsheet.

CEQA Reform

AB 1886.  Introduced by McCarty (D).  Revises the definition of a "transit priority project" for purposes of qualifying for abbreviated review under the Sustainable Communities Strategy (SCS) provisions of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to permit up to 50% of the parcels within the project to be farther than one-half mile from a major transit stop or high-quality transit corridor, as defined.  This bill passed the Assembly on 5/27/16 but did not get out of committee in the Senate, so it is used in the report card only in the Assembly.  This bill was opposed by the Sierra Club.

SB 734.  Galgiani (D).  This bill extends for two years the expedited California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) judicial review procedures established by the Jobs and Economic Improvement Through Environmental Leadership Act (2011).  This bill passed the Assembly on 8/4/16 and the Senate on 8/11/16 and was signed by Gov. Brown on 8/26/16.  YIMBYs might feel that this bill covers too few projects to be worth supporting, especially since most of the projects are not residential.  On the other hand, я figured that any CEQA reform is helpful, at least as proof of concept.  This bill was supported (though not endorsed as a key bill – a “Job Creator”) by the California Chamber of Commerce.

Zoning: General

AB 744.  Chau (D).  Requires a local government, upon the request of a developer that receives a density bonus, to reduce the minimum parking requirements for a housing development, if it meets specified criteria.  This bill passed the Senate on 8/31/15 and the Assembly on 9/2/15 and was signed by Gov. Brown on 10/9/15.  This bill was endorsed by the League of Conservation Voters.

AB 1934.  Santiago (D). Creates a development bonus when a commercial developer enters into an agreement for partnered housing to contribute affordable housing through a joint project or two separate projects encompassing affordable housing.  This bill passed the Senate on 8/23/16, passed the Assembly on 8/29/16 and was signed by Gov. Brown on 9/28/16.  Since it passed unanimously in the Senate, it does not help distinguish YIMBY Senators, so it is used in the report card only in the Assembly.  This bill was supported (though not endorsed as a key bill) by the California Chamber of Commerce.

AB 2180. Ting (D).  Expedites, for a public agency, the review process for certain development projects, pursuant to the Permit Streamlining Act, specifically those development projects that are either: a) residential units only; or, b) mixed-use developments consisting of residential and nonresidential uses in which the nonresidential uses are less than 50% of the total square footage of the development and are limited to neighborhood commercial uses and to the first floor of buildings that are two or more stories.  This bill passed the Senate on 8/24/16, passed the Assembly on 8/30/16, and was signed by Gov. Brown on 9/24/16.  This bill was supported (though not endorsed as a key bill) by the California Chamber of Commerce.

AB 2501. Bloom (D) and Low (D).  Makes changes to the density bonus law.  … In return for inclusion of affordable units in a development, developers are given an increase in density over a city's zoned density and concessions and incentives. This bill passed the Senate on 8/25/16, passed the Assembly on 8/31/16, and was signed by Gov. Brown on 9/28/16.

AB 2584. Daly (D).  Authorizes a "housing organization," as defined, to enforce specified provisions of the Housing Accountability Act (HAA).  This bill passed the Senate on 8/15/16, passed the Assembly on 8/23/16, and was signed by Gov. Brown on 9/28/16.

Zoning: Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs)

SB 1069.  Wieckowski (D).  This bill requires an ordinance for the creation of ADUs to include specified provisions regarding areas where ADUs may be located, standards, and lot density. This bill revises requirements for the approval or disapproval of an ADU application when a local agency has not adopted an ordinance. This bill passed the Assembly on 8/29/16, passed the Senate on 8/30/16, and was signed by Gov. Brown on 9/27/16.  This bill was endorsed as a Job Creator by the California Chamber of Commerce.

AB 2299.  Bloom.  The bill reorganizes existing law to apply a clear standard for the ADU permit review process regardless of whether a local government has adopted an ordinance or not. This bill passed the Senate on 8/30/16, passed the Assembly on 8/31/16, and was signed by Gov. Brown on 9/27/16.

Construction Costs

AB 251.  Levine (D).  Provides a statutory definition for a "de minimis" public subsidy that does not trigger the requirements of prevailing wage law.  It passed in the Senate on 7/13/15 and Assembly on 7/16/15.  Gov. Brown vetoed the bill on 8/17/15.  я included votes for it as an anti-YIMBY position as it could increase the cost of construction of certain developments involving small amounts of public funds.  It is a small issue but is a proxy for union support at the expense of development, which was an issue in the failure of by-right zoning (which never came to a floor vote).  This bill was supported by the California Labor Federation.

Housing Bond

SB 879.  Beall (D).  Authorizes the issuance of $3 billion in general obligation (GO) bonds for affordable housing construction, subject to approval by the voters, in the November 2018 election.  This bill passed the Senate on 6/1/16 but narrowly failed to secure a two-thirds majority in the Assembly on 8/19/16.  This bill was endorsed by the League of California Cities.

Not Included:

AB 2. Alejo (D).  Authorizes local governments to create Community Revitalization and Investment Authorities (authorities) to use tax increment revenue to improve the infrastructure, assist businesses, and support affordable housing in disadvantaged communities.  This passed the Senate on 9/9/15 and the Assembly on 9/12/15 and was signed by Gov. Brown on 9/22/15.  YIMBYs may not view this as addressing the key issues of expanding supply, and it passed on a nearly party-line vote, so including it would further disfavor Republicans.  On the other hand, YIMBYs generally support affordable housing funding.

AB 35.  Chiu & Atkins (Ds).  Modifies the existing Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program and increases the aggregate credit amount that may be annually allocated to low-income housing projects by $100 million for calendar years 2016 through 2021, inclusive, as provided.  This passed nearly unanimously in both the Assembly and Senate on 9/11/15 and 9/12/15, so it would not be helpful for distinguishing YIMBY legislators.  Also, it was vetoed by Gov. Brown on 10/10/15, who is generally a YIMBY, so it is not clear whether most YIMBYs would support it.  This bill was endorsed as a Job Creator by the California Chamber of Commerce.

AB 1335. Atkins (D).  Beginning January 1, 2016, imposes a $75 fee on every real estate instrument, paper, or notice that is required or permitted by law per each single transaction per parcel of real property, with exceptions, to provide funds for affordable housing.  This bill narrowly failed to secure a two-thirds majority (required as it is a tax bill) in the Assembly on 6/3/15.  It could be used in the report card only in the Assembly.  я excluded it because a flat fee per transaction seems regressive and has many of the same problems as Prop. 13: long-time property owners do not contribute.  Also, it failed on a party-line vote, and including it would therefore further disfavor Republicans, who are already disadvantaged by the “only bills that reach the floor” structure.  On the other hand, YIMBYs might conclude that any tax of residential real estate would encourage towns to approve more of it, and might support the use of the revenue on affordable housing.  Perhaps we could simply create separate report cards for Democrats vs. Republicans to reflect the inherent disadvantage Republicans face in getting their bills to the floor.

YIMBY State Legislature Report Cards Commentary 9 12.docx