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Former Long Beach Mayor Foster Wants CA Voters To Change State Constitution. He's Co-Proponent Of Draft Proposing To Enable Sac'to-Mandated Housing Density If CA Taxpayers Pay For Density-Supportive Broadly Defined Local "Infrastructure"


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(August 18, 2019, 10:10 a.m.) -- Former Long Beach Mayor (2006-2014) Bob Foster wants California voters to change CA's constitution. LBREPORT.com has obtained the draft text of a proposed state constitutional amendment on which Mr. Foster is listed as a co-proponent along with four others: Sara Wan (former CA Coastal Commissioner), Donna Frye (former San Diego Councilwoman/former SD Mayoral candidate), David Takashima (Mgr. Fed'l/State Gov't Affairs for City/County of San Francisco) and James LaMattery (San Diego area realtor who opposes policies of incumbent SD Mayor Kevin Faulconer and the SD City Council that invite increased residential density, higher building heights and reduced parking requirements.)

LBREPORT.com has learned that although the text may still be developing and is subject to changes, the proponents have submitted their draft text to the CA Attorney General's office for review. After receiving the State Attorney General's review, the proponents may revise/amend/change/tweak the measure's text.

At some point, the proponents may submit their finalized measure text for an official title and summary and either begin collecting nearly a million valid signatures of CA registered voters to put it on a future general election ballot OR try to persuade Sacramento's legislative leadership (with a Democrat super-majority in the Assembly and state Senate) to put the measure on the ballot. A majority of CA general election voters would decide whether to enact it or reject it.

The proponents have labeled their constitutional amendment the "Workforce Housing and Neighborhood Protection Act." It opens by declaring that "Land-use planning and zoning are fundamentally local functions. No State law that facilitates or mandates an increase in housing density within the jurisdiction of any local government shall be enforceable if the law conflicts with any planning or zoning law adopted by the local government."

However the measure immediately adds that this "shall not prevent the enforcement of a State law that facilitates or mandates an increase in housing density within the jurisdiction of any local government if both of the following conditions have been satisfied":

  • "(b)(1) The State has provided a level of financial support that the local government has determined will bring the infrastructure of each community affected by the increase in housing density up to the standard necessary to satisfy all federal, state, and local infrastructure requirements applicable to each such community at the time the local government gives final approval to the additional housing density

  • "(2) After the local government has used the State financial support for the purpose described in paragraph (b)(1), the infrastructure of each community affected by the increase in housing density has been brought up to the standard necessary to satisfy all federal, state, and local infrastructure requirements applicable to each such community at the time the local government gives final approval to the additional housing density."

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  • The measure would prevent the state from enacting or enforcing any law "that prescribes the minimum square footage of any dwelling unit" [enabling City Halls to allow small dwelling units.]

  • For "any workforce-housing project ["a project that includes dwelling units that...are affordable to and occupied by lower income households that receives a local government's ministerial or discretionary approval"] the constitutional amendment would apply all of the following that would make state taxpayers pay certain fees that "workforce housing" developers now pay to City Halls:

    • (1) The State shall pay any and all post-approval fees that any local government would otherwise collect from the projectís applicant after the project's approval.
    • (2) Each local government to which post-approval fees must be paid shall promptly request payment from the State following the project's approval, not from the applicant, and the State shall promptly pay the local government.
    • (3) All monies received from the State by a local government shall be used exclusively for the project as if paid by the applicant.

    Sponsor

    Sponsor

    The measure applies the following definitions:

    • (1) "Infrastructure" means public improvements and services such as parks, libraries, first responders, water, sewer, and storm water facilities, transit and mobility, sidewalks, and street lighting provided by the local government.
    • (2) "Community" means a community within a local governmentís jurisdiction as identified in any planning or zoning law adopted by the local government.
    • (3) "Planning or zoning law adopted by the local government" includes general plans and elements thereof, community plans, specific plans, and other planning and zoning laws, ordinances, codes, regulations, or policies.
    • (4) "Local government:" means any county, city, or city and county, including a charter city or county, any special district, any school district, or any other local or regional governmental entity.
    • (5) "Workforce-housing project" means a project that includes dwelling units that, within the jurisdiction of the local government approving the project, are (i) affordable to and occupied by lower income households as defined by Health and Safety Code Sections 50079.5, 50105, and 50106 and (ii) subject to a recorded affordability restriction for the maximum time permitted by law.
    • (6) "Post-approval fees" means any and all fees or exactions established in accordance with all applicable laws and that must be paid to a local government after ministerial or discretionary approval of a residential project up through issuance of a certificate of occupancy. "Post-approval fees" includes but is not limited to construction-inspection fees, school impact fees, and development-impact fees, as well as fees, charges, dedications, and other requirements levied pursuant to Education Code 17620. For a residential project that includes one or more non-residential uses, "post-approval fees" does not include any fees attributable to the nonresidential portion of the project.

    The measure's draft text doesn't define [or cite examples of] "federal, state, and local infrastructure requirements" that City Halls must "satisfy" before giving final approval to increased housing density and (by the measure's terms) blunting state constitutional challenges to Sacramento laws that facilitate or mandate increased housing density.

    Sponsor

    Sponsor

    Proponents' position appears to be [our rough summary/paraphrase] that if Sacramento imposes housing density quotas on cities, Sac'to -- meaning state taxpayers -- should pay for the infrastructure (broadly defined) to support it. (We published the wonky details of the draft because the devil is often in the details.)

    The proposed constitutional amendment includes text specifying that it is to be "liberally construed to achieve the purposes of requiring State housing policies to improve housing affordability without shifting cost burdens to local taxpayers and neighborhoods and without undermining local land-use and zoning control; ensuring that any community required to absorb additional housing density as a result of State legislation has up-to-date infrastructure to accommodate the density without degrading the community's quality of life; providing local governments with flexibility to determine the size of dwelling units in order to meet local housing demand; encouraging the development of workforce housing at a lower cost to the occupants; and avoiding unfunded State mandates on local government."

    An effort by LBREPORT.com to reach former Mayor Foster for comment and additional information was unsuccessful.

    LBREPORT.com spoke with co-proponent San Diego area realtor James LaMattery, who stressed that he was speaking for himself, not necessarily for other co-proponents of the draft text. (Material in brackets [] by LBREPORT.com.)

    Mr. LaMattery said he believes that if the state imposes housing quotas as it already does and will likely continue to do, the state [state taxpayers] should write the check for infrastructure needed to support the increased density and cities that take the state money must actually provide the density-supportive infrastructure.

    Mr. LaMattery said the current system has effectively enabled developers to build high rise luxury units without concern for affordability and often without access to transit and without sufficient parking. Mr. LaMattery said the draft ballot measure, which he acknowledged may undergo changes, isn't a panacea but he believes it would be a first step to bringing all sides -- developers, impacted neighborhood residents, local and state elected officials -- to the table on housing increases.

    Developing.

    Sponsor



    Aug. 18, 1:13 p.m. Added rough summary/paraphrase of what appears to be proponents' position.



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