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California governor signs into law measure to fight housing crisis By Reuters


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Construction begins on a residential housing development called 3 Roots by Lennar in San Diego, California, U.S. June 3, 2021 REUTERS/Mike Blake

By Kanishka Singh

(Reuters) – California Governor Gavin Newsom has signed legislation aimed at combating the state’s housing crisis by expanding housing production and aiming to streamline housing approvals.

Newsom’s administration announced Thursday that California would invest $1.75 Billion in what his office calls a California Housing Accelerator. This will help to accelerate the construction of 6,500 multi-family affordable units. These projects were previously stalled due to a lack of low-income tax credit tax credits and tax-exempt bonds.

“Governor Newsom’s California Comeback Plan will lead to over 84,000 new housing units and exits from homelessness, including today’s announcement of $1.75 billion in affordable housing funding for the new California Housing Accelerator”, his office said in a statement.

According to the Wall Street Journal, data from the California Association of Realtors shows that the median California home price rose 144% to $591,000.866 between 2000-2019.

Newsom’s measures include Senate Bill 9 also called the California Housing Opportunity and More Efficiency Act (HOME Act). This bill would allow for more housing to be built in single-family home zones.

Newsom also signed Senate Bill 10 which tackles the problem of zoning. SB 10 gives local governments the ability to streamline their zoning process in order to build multi-unit homes near transit areas or urban infills. The maximum number of units allowed per parcel is 10. This legislation reduces the requirement to go through the California Environmental Quality Act process (CEQA).

After Newsom beat back the Republican candidate to remove him from office, and won an overwhelming victory in a recall election, the legislation was signed.

A June report by the University of California Berkeley Center for Community Innovation and Next 10 found that California could be in danger of a spiraling wildfire crisis and increasing housing costs. California must also revamp its rebuilding process after disasters, and find ways to stop building in high risk areas.

If laws don’t change, the University of California Berkeley Center for Community Innovation study and Next 10 research institute also foresaw an insurance crisis.

It is much more costly to build in established communities, which are generally protected against wildfires. Therefore, developers keep encroaching on more accessible, dry terrain.

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