End Of California’s Legislative Session Brings Victories On Housing But Setbacks On Renewables

The frenzy is over.  The California legislature finished its session last week and sent its approved bills onto the governor.  Casual observers note the big “victories” on housing:

  • A supermajority vote to raise fees on real estate documents to fund affordable housing;
  • Another supermajority vote to approve a bond measure to go before the voters to fund even more affordable housing;
  • A win for SB 35, to streamline local approvals for new housing in cities and counties that aren’t providing enough of it also passed; and
  • The “sleeper” AB 1568 (Bloom), which will improves infrastructure financing for infill projects under the acronym NIFTI (Neighborhood Infill Finance and Transit Improvements Act).

But as I wrote last week, SB 35 is the one that really gets to the heart of the problem of the housing shortage in California.  The new revenue measures are drops in a seemingly bottomless bucket, as local governments consistently prevent new housing from getting built, particularly in job-rich infill areas.  SB 35 instead starts to deregulate housing at the local level.  California will need much more of that approach to solve this crisis.

Finally, on renewable energy, the state suffered a setback.  SB 100, to increase the renewable mandate to 60% by 2030 and 100% by 2045, was kicked into next year, as was the plan to regionalize California’s grid to encourage more renewables across the west and lower electricity rates for all.  But the stalling of these bills gives the legislature and climate advocates a good place to start on next year’s priorities.

Next up: we’ll see what the governor signs in the coming weeks.

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