Bureau of Redundancy Bureau

By Jon Coupal

President Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association

Much of what government does is wasteful, ineffective, and redundant. For example, Senate Bill 679 was recently signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom as part of the "housing and homelessness package" of bills intended to address the state's housing shortage. While no one disputes the severity of California's housing crisis, this legislation is seriously flawed.

SB 679 establishes the Los Angeles County Affordable Housing Solutions Agency and authorizes the agency to, among other things, raise and allocate taxes, incur indebtedness, and place tax measures on the ballot in Los Angeles County. It was modeled on a similar bill, Assembly Bill 1487 enacted in 2019, that authorized a regional approach to housing and homelessness in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Specifically, AB 1487 granted the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) — acting as the Bay Area Housing Finance Authority (BAHFA) — the authority to raise billions of dollars to fund the production, preservation, and protection of affordable housing. Its purpose is to facilitate a regional approach to support local jurisdictions by providing additional funding mechanisms (taxes) to address infrastructure and other housing related needs.

A legislative analysis on SB 679 described the earlier bill as being "formulated in partnership with the Bay Area's local elected leaders and other regional leaders to collectively ensure that the entire Bay Area is on track to provide affordable housing efficiently and effectively to all residents. That bill [1487] set forth the governing structure and powers of the board, allowable financing activities, and allowable uses of the revenues generated."

HJTA opposed 1487 because it was focused just on raising revenue without seriously considering real solutions to the housing crisis. Authorizing new and increased parcel taxes when only 30% of Californians can afford a median priced home won't do anything to increase homeownership and, in fact, reduces affordability. While most housing decisions belong with local governments, state policies could help, including by lowering impact fees, reforming inclusionary zoning to actually incentivize unit development, and removing costly mandates on new development.

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A note to our valued members and supporters: To increase the reach of our message to as many Californians as possible, HJTA made an agreement with the Southern California News Group papers to carry Jon Coupal's weekly column. The newspapers in the group, including the Orange County Register and the Los Angeles Daily News, have added a paywall that allows only a limited number of page views per month, and then asks readers to become subscribers. HJTA is not marketing these subscriptions or receiving any payment from them. The columns are exclusive to SCNG's papers for one week and then are posted in full on HJTA's own website, http://www.hjta.org, under "California Commentaries."


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