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Interview with New HCD Chair Ed Chau

June 5, 2013
Speaker John Pérez (D-Los Angeles) announced on Tuesday, May 28, the appointment of Assembly Member Ed Chau (D-Monterey Park) as chair of the Housing and Community Development (HCD) Committee. Many bills of importance to California cities go through this committee.
The League congratulates Assembly Member Chau on his appointment as chair of HCD and looks forward to working with him on legislation and policies effecting housing.  
Elected to the Assembly in November 2012 to represent the 49th district, Chau brings a diverse background in local government, law and computer engineering to higher office. His local government experience was provided by serving for 12 years on the Montebello School Board. Professionally, Assembly Member Chau began his career as a computer engineer and programmer and then pursued a legal career. A founding attorney of his own law firm, he also served as a Judge Pro Tem for the Los Angeles County Superior Court for a decade.
Upon the appointment as chair of this committee, CA Cities Advocate asked the Assembly member about his priorities, the policy challenges he hopes to address and the importance of local authority in land use planning.
Do you have a specific focus or interest on housing that you hope to pursue?
Our state has faced significant economic challenges over the last few years. Lower- and moderate-income families have felt the brunt of these challenges through unemployment, foreclosure, and a tightening rental market. A major priority for me as we make our way out of this recession is giving local governments the tools they need to accommodate the housing needs of all residents of our state and in particular low- and moderate-income families and individuals. I am interested in identifying new sources of financing to promote the sufficient production of new housing of affordable cost and diverse size.
I am also interested in ensuring that housing continues to be a part of the conversation around meeting our AB 32 goals, especially with respect to decisions around how to allocate cap and trade auction revenues. Where we build housing in the future, especially in relation to jobs and transportation networks, and our ability to provide housing across all income levels in all communities, will play a crucial role in meeting our greenhouse gas reduction targets.
What do you view as some of the policy challenges?
A critical lack of affordable housing options for families, individuals, and special needs and homeless populations remains an ongoing challenge for our state.  The economic competitiveness and health of our communities can only be strengthened by providing affordable housing options in all communities so that families have the option to live near where they work. In great part, the challenge lies in identifying funding to build affordable housing. The dissolution of redevelopment agencies and the resulting loss of as much as $1 billion for affordable housing each year, coupled with the fact that we have largely exhausted the voter-approved bond funds for affordable housing, dealt a heavy blow to our ability to meet the affordable housing needs of our communities.  The substantial reduction in funding for affordable housing also threatens the ability of communities to achieve the goals AB 32. Integrating affordable housing as part of every community, especially near public transit, will have a direct impact on our ability to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. I am committed to meeting this and other housing challenges in comprehensive and innovative ways.
Local governments face unique issues when making land use decisions.  How do you feel about maintaining local authority?
As a member of the Housing and Community Development Committee, I voted on a wide range of measures affecting land use policy. I voted for AB 1229 (Atkins), which will restore an important tool for local governments, inclusionary zoning, to help meet the housing needs of lower-income residents in their communities by encouraging mixed-income housing. I also supported AB 1080 (Alejo), sponsored by the League of California Cities, which would authorize local governments to create a new tax increment financing tool aimed at improving low-income and deteriorated communities, including closed military bases. I supported these measures because I believe that local governments should have the ability develop communities that reflect local planning desires. However, I recognize that local land use decisions have regional and statewide impacts, and I encourage all local governments to be active partners in regional efforts around reducing greenhouse gas emissions, such as implementing SB 375. 
The list of the full membership of the Assembly Housing Committee is available online.

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