SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The California Assembly approved a package of bills to address the state’s housing crunch late Thursday as lawmakers search for ways to generate more money and streamline regulations that can stifle new construction.
The tense and dramatic late-night vote in the Assembly sets up a final decision on Friday in the Senate, which has already approved earlier drafts of all the measures in the six-bill package.
California lacks an estimated 1.5 million affordable housing units compared to demand, and the state’s homelessness rate is disproportionately high. Still, alleviating the crisis has proved a difficult issue in the Capitol as lawmakers deal with thorny issues of raising taxes and easing environmental regulations.
“We are living during the worst housing crisis our state has ever experienced,” said Assemblyman David Chiu, a San Francisco Democrat who leads the Assembly housing committee.
Republican critics said spending money wouldn’t solve the housing problem and advocated a more aggressive reduction in regulations, which they said would spur developers to expand the housing supply.
The bills “are based on the misguided premise that we can spend our way out of this problem with government spending,” Assemblyman Jay Olbernolte, R-Hesperia, said.
The major bills would: Put a $4 billion bond on the 2018 ballot, with $3 billion for existing housing programs and $1 billion for veterans’ housing; allow developers to bypass some local development regulations when building affordable apartment complexes; and establish a $75 fee on real estate transaction documents such as those signed when refinancing a mortgage. Several…
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