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League of California Cities
Home > News > News Articles > 2020 > March > League of California Cities Unveils Bold Housing Production Proposal
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League of California Cities Unveils Bold Housing Production Proposal

Sets the foundation for immediate production of housing across all income levels

March 4, 2020
For more than a year, the League of California Cities has been proactively working with city leaders on solutions to the housing crisis that is gripping all regions of the state. 
In February, the League’s board of directors overwhelmingly supported a bold housing production proposal that, if fully implemented, will lay the foundation for the immediate production of much needed housing across all income levels.

The League’s board which consists of mayors, council members, and appointed officials who represent the League’s professional departments, regional divisions, and at-large representatives, voted nearly unanimously to support the proposal in February 2020. The proposal was developed by the League’s Housing, Community and Economic Development Policy Committee, a 60-member committee made up of mayors, council members, and appointed officials who represent the League’s professional departments, diversity caucuses, and regional divisions.

“While prior proposals have missed the mark and were unable to garner the support to advance out of the Legislature, the League strongly believes that with this housing production proposal and continued partnership with the state and other organizations, we are on the right path to providing housing for all Californians,” said League of California Cities President John F. Dunbar.

The League’s housing production proposal consists of both near-term and longer-term actions:

Near-term actions

Any realistic solution must include new long-term funding to support the construction of affordable housing and essential infrastructure. Without a source of reliable, ongoing funding that matches the scale of the problem, little will be done to actually produce new, affordable housing units. Funding could come from the following pending bills or other sources:
  • SB 795 (Beall) Affordable Housing and Community Development Investment Program – a measure that would restore a more robust property tax-based financing mechanism focused on building affordable housing and infill infrastructure that would provide up to $2 billion annually. 
  • ACA 1 (Aguiar-Curry) Affordable Housing and Public Infrastructure. Voter Approval – a measure that would allow the voters to lower the vote approval threshold to 55 percent for local general obligation bonds, sales taxes or parcel taxes that invest in affordable housing and key infrastructure.  
The proposal also includes requiring cities to take some immediate actions designed to help spur housing production. In order to ensure cities retain flexibility to best meet their local needs and conditions, they would be able to choose from a suite of actions that include: 
  • Adopt an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) ordinance
  • Streamline housing approval processes
  • Establish a Workforce Housing Opportunity Zone (WHOZ) or a Housing Sustainability District
  • Develop objective design review standards
  • Reduce development fees
  • Adopt an inclusionary housing ordinance
  • Establish a local housing trust
  • Restrict demolition of existing housing stock
  • Allow up to fourplexes in single-family zones
  • Increase allowable heights and densities
  • Adopt transit-oriented development (TOD) plans
  • Reduce parking requirements
  • Adopt tenant protections
  • Establish an Enhanced Infrastructure Financing District (EIFD) or a similar financing tool
The League’s board also underscored the numerous barriers to housing production well beyond the control of local governments that have significant impacts on what types of, and how many, housing units are built. Construction costs, new building codes, California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) costs  and delays, and financing are all potential barriers that need to be reduced to help accelerate housing construction.

Longer-term actions

With the most recent Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) and associated Housing Element update process underway, all cities and counties must update housing planning documents to include new housing unit allocations by early 2024.

To accommodate higher RHNA allocations and align local planning documents with state priority development areas, the League supports requiring cities to prioritize housing density and housing site identification near key transit infrastructure, downtown areas, and commercial corridors. The League also supports cities needing to accommodate as much of their housing unit allocation in these areas before other locations are considered.

“We believe that the League’s bold housing production proposal presents a real opportunity to forge a consensus solution that will accelerate housing production and, at the same time, allow cities to develop locally driven plans for those homes,” said League Executive Director Carolyn Coleman. “We look forward to continuing to partner with the Governor, Legislature, and other stakeholders on finding solutions to the housing crisis that are built on local civic engagement and community input, while simultaneously working to meet the state’s housing needs.”

The League has shared the housing production proposal with the Governor’s office and legislative leaders and looks forward to building a consensus solution that will effectively address the housing crisis. The League strongly believes this housing production proposal backed by city leaders from across the state can be a vehicle that all parties can support to produce more housing.

The League will be hosting a webinar for members Thursday, March 4, 2020 to review the details of the proposal, and share how city leaders can engage and support the League’s advocacy efforts. A fact sheet is also available to assist in outreach and communications with legislators.

This proposal, as well as the League’s other strategic priorities, will be key topics during the League’s Legislative Action Day, April 22, 2020. The League urges all city officials to register at no charge for this opportunity to let local voices be heard on this very important issue to our cities and all those we serve.

© League of California Cities