Do You Want Property Tax-Increase Debt Bond, Or Less Required Parking Or Fewer Chances to Challenge EIRs As Measures To Promote Affordable Housing? They're Among City Staff Recommendations For Council Consideration At Tonite's May 2 City Council Meeting is reader and advertiser supported. Support independent news in LB similar to the way people support NPR and PBS stations. We're not non-profit so it's not tax deductible but $49.95 (less than an annual dollar a week) helps keep us online.
(May 2, 2017, 5:05 a.m.) -- Tonight's (May 2) City Council agenda includes an item with potentially significant neighborhood and taxpayer impacts by inviting Councilmembers to adopt (in whole or to select certain items from among) a lengthy list of city staff recommended policies to encourage the production and availability of "affordable housing." These include:

  • "Begin exploring" some type of debt-bond (property tax increase) ballot measure (requires 2/3 vote of the people).
  • Implement a state law to reduce parking requirements for affordable housing developments near transit
  • Adopt "specific plans" to let a single "program environmental impact report" suffice for a large area to speed approval of affordable housing projects, effectively reducing the public's opportunities for opposition or challenges
  • "Investigate the possibility" of allocating city taxpayer resources "during the annual budget process" (when Council decides how much to provide for police, fire, parks, libraries, infrastructure and other city services) "to support the production of affordable and workforce housing"
  • "Encourage adoption of regulations to allow and incentivize the use of shipping container construction for housing."
  • "Explore and propose an Article 34 ensure maximum leveraging of State resources for affordable housing developments." (CA Constitution Article 34 specifies in pertinent part: "No low rent housing project shall hereafter be developed, constructed, or acquired in any manner by any state public body until, a majority of the qualified electors of the upon such issue, approve such project..." The City has used exemptions to Article 34 in the past but staff says a referendum "may be necessary" to ensure the City "remains eligible to receive state funds for affordable housing.")
  • "Consider expanding one-for-one replacement of lower-income units" (currently applicable in the Coastal Zone under a LB ordinance.)

[Scroll down for further.]

The item's agendizing memo includes an updated 95 page Report titled "Revenue Tools and Incentives for the Production of Affordable and Workforce Housing" at this link. Regarding a possible general obligation debt-bond ballot measure, city staff says as long as public ownership restrictions are met, general obligation bonds "can support affordable housing measures including down payment assistance programs, rehabilitation grants/loans, land purchase/write-downs, grants for construction/acquisition, homeless projects (must be used for property, not services), loan programs for seniors, veterans, disabled and other targeted groups and housing support of mental health programs, substance abuse programs. [Source: Report, p. 63]

In the item's agendizing memo, City Hall's Dir. of Development Services, Amy Bodek, says "If the City Council chooses to adopt these recommendations, staff will take the necessary steps to implement them, including drafting or revising portions of the Long Beach Municipal Code for future City Council consideration."



The recommendations stem from Mayor Robert Garcia's January 2016 call for affordable and workforce housing for LB residents, which begat a City Hall-selected group of affordable housing advocates and housing stakeholders who met for roughly a year and worked with city staff to produce a draft report presented at a Feb. 21, 2017 Council study session ( coverage here.).

The Feb. 21 study session lasted over four hours, filled the Council Chamber to nearly 3/4 full, and produced sharply polarized public testimony. Retired Assemblywoman/retired Vice Mayor Lowenthal (who chaired the "Affordable Workforce Housing Study Group") acknowledged that the draft report wasn't able to discuss the issue of renters' rights but said "that's a separate issue, that has to be discussed at length, at length, at a separate time."

Several speakers identified themselves as members of Long Beach Residents Empowered (LiBRE) which advocates enactment of a number of tenant protections; other speakers simply urged maintaining and creating housing for very low and low income residents through other means. A roughly equal number of speakers, some of whom identified with Better Housing Long Beach, opposed tenant protections that they described as rental restrictions.


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At the conclusion of the Feb. 21 study session, the Council voted 8-0 (Andrews absent for entire meeting) to receive and file the draft Report, and city staff indicated it would bring forward a Final Report incorporating input from the Study Session...and that Final Report and recommendations have now arrived for possible Council action.

City staff's May 2 recommendations likewise don't include "renters rights" items such as rent control or requiring landlords to pay tenants sums to evict them for reasons other than City Hall-allowed "just cause." The item's accompanying agendizing memo by Development Services Director Bodek says staff was unable to include information on evictions in its final report because "[s]taff has been unable to receive timely information despite repeated attempts to do so through the Los Angeles County Court records staff. Staff will continue to seek this information going forward."



City staff's agendized recommendation for May 2 is to receive and file its report, "adopt recommendations, and direct the City Manager to work with the appropriate departments to take necessary steps to implement recommendations." will provide LIVE coverage of tonight's Council meeting on our front page at (scheduled start time 5:00 p.m.)


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