Gov. Brown Could Sign Bill to Help Finance Sustainable Development in CA

Governor Jerry Brown is poised to sign a bill that would enable cities and counties in California to finance regional smart growth plans and sustainable transportation improvements through the creation of Sustainable Communities Investment Authorities.

SB 1, authored by State Senator Darrell Steinberg, is aimed at restoring some of the financing mechanisms lost after Brown eliminated Community Redevelopment Agencies last year. Steinberg introduced a similar bill in 2012, but it was vetoed by the governor, who said it was too early to create new agencies with powers similar to the ones he’d just ordered dismantled.

Steinberg looks on as Brown signs a budget cutting bill in 2011. Photo:##http://www.zimbio.com/photos/Jerry+Brown/Darrell+Steinberg##Zimio##

The bill is aimed at helping municipalities implement their newly-adopted Sustainable Communities Strategies, which were mandated in 2008 with the adoption of SB 375. That bill, also authored by Steinberg and signed by then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, was the first piece of state legislation in the nation to order the creation of plans to curb suburban sprawl and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transportation.

As regional agencies adopt these regional plans — the most recent of which was Plan Bay Area — it’s becoming more apparent that their implementation will depend on the funding needed to provide grant incentives for development near transit hubs and the walking, biking, and transit improvements to support them.

“The state is finally promoting regional planning for sustainable communities, but with few resources to get the job done,” said Stuart Cohen, Executive Director of TransForm, a statewide nonprofit that advocates for sustainable transportation and housing policies. “SB 1 will help cities deliver walkable, affordable communities with great transportation options. What’s more, the bill includes critical language protecting residents and supporting production of new homes affordable to all Californians. SB 1 recognizes that a successful community must provide for all its residents.”

Jackie Cornejo, director of the Construction Careers Project at LAANE (Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy), called SB 1 “an ambitious bill that seeks to create a whole new vision of equitable development for every community in our state.”

“We are very excited to be working on a bill that will leverage Los Angeles’ massive build out of transit and promote sustainable development nearby so we can all live and play near our work, have access to good jobs and affordable housing,” she said.

Under SB 1, the new SCIAs would be authorized to utilize tax increment financing for their Sustainable Communities Investment Areas, as long as certain economic development and planning requirements are met.

The bill would require 25 percent of the agencies’ resources to be spent on affordable housing for low- and moderate-income families, and they must receive independent financial audits every five years. The affordable housing component wasn’t included in a similar proposal to SB 1 that was introduced by Assemblymember Luis Alejo, but that legislation has stalled in the chamber.
SB 1 has passed the Senate and will be heard by an Assembly committee next Wednesday. It has backing from a number of environmental, labor, and low-income advocacy groups, as well as business associations, and the California Association of Realtors.

The bill has no organized opposition thus far, though some libertarian activists have claimed that Sustainable Communities and SB 1 will lead to mass government confiscation of rural and suburban land, despite the bill’s intent to promote infill development instead of sprawl. Some Republican senators have voted against the bill in the Senate, but significant opposition in the Assembly is seen as unlikely.

So, the question remains: will Jerry Brown sign the bill?

In his veto message of SB 1156 last year, the governor claimed that the timing was wrong. Redevelopment agencies were still being broken up by his order, so creating successor agencies was inappropriate, he argued. By this time, the majority of CRAs are shuttered, though not all, so it remains to be seen whether Brown will cite the same excuse to exercise his veto. The Governor’s Office has refused to comment on the legislation until it reaches his desk.

  • Anonymous

    “implementation will depend on the funding needed to provide grant incentives for development near transit hubs”. If we were talking about the “incentives” that encourage sprawl, we’d be calling them “subsidies”, right?

    This is a bad idea, and I hope the governor vetoes it. Charles Marohn of Strong Towns has written extensively about how tax increment financing creates long-term municipal budget problems. We shouldn’t allow TIF to come back just to promote the kind of development we like.

    The overwhelming reason that there is not more dense, walkable development or more affordable development in places like SF and LA is that it is illegal to build it. Given how high housing prices are, there is little reason to believe that developers would not create this type of project if freed from those restrictions. We have limited public funds, and I don’t see why we should give any subsidies to developers to do things that they will do anyway.

  • Eric Maundry

    The Democrats in this state are fully owned by the development and realty lobbies. This is what advanced corruption looks like. The stupid notion that if you pack people into some overdeveloped urban hellhole they will somehow take the bus and therefore save the world from whatever the scourge du jour might be is absurd. But isn’t that how you sell things in California? Tell the pinheads it will save the world? Well, here you are. Micro-condos will save the world. Just don’t forget to kiss your humanity goodbye.

  • Annie Marquit

    SB 1 not only provides a revenue stream for sustainable development, but also includes innovative affordable housing provisions, such as requiring the agencies to spend 25% of the revenue on affordable housing and a “no net loss” provision, which ensures that the number of units occupied by low-income people won’t be reduced during the life of a sustainable communities plan. These provisions could become a nationwide model for creating a framework for walkable, transit oriented communities where everyone benefits.

    – Annie Marquit, Staff Attorney, Public Counsel

  • Frank Alvarez

    SB1 could be just the lynchpin to help
    California get more people working, out of poverty, and into good jobs. First,
    it will stimulate both private and public development by transit and revive the
    construction industry, opening many job opportunities for the underemployed and
    unemployed. Second, particularly important for me is the requirement for the new
    local authorities to create jobs plans, which will ensure middle class construction
    and permanent jobs. Through these plans, we can prioritize hiring low-income
    and disadvantaged workers. This will ensure that our taxpayer dollars will be
    used most wisely since many new and existing transit projects and related
    development are in these same communities. With more Californians working and
    earning a fair wage our state will have additional revenues to address other
    challenges.

  • Gillettestevens

    Honorable Governor Edmund G. Brown jr,
    I am writing this email tonight to express my vigorous opposition to Senate Bill 1. The very last thing the people of California need is
    to have their decisions and options regarding personal property taken from them. I have serious concerns that any “commission” or “board”, comprised of unelected individuals, will pursue goals, schemes and agendas that are not in keeping with the best interests of average Californians. I have serious concerns that private property rights will be trampled, and that, once started, will escalate to an unanticipated degree. The consequences to many citizens of California would be devastating. California does not need a bigger government, increased regulation, or a “shadow” government comprised of unelected individuals. I urge you to reject SB1 and insist that the citizens of California retain their Constitution guarantees and property rights. It is bills like SB1 that tarnish our state, and encourage mass exodus by many of our best and brightest. Thank you for hearing my thoughts.

  • Gillettestevens

    The very last thing the people of California need is to have their decisions and options regarding personal property taken from them. I have serious concerns that any “commission” or “board”, comprised of unelected individuals, will pursue goals and schemes that are not in keeping with the best interests of most Californians. The bill is too broad, and gives unelected officials the power to define what constitutes “blight”. And that designation could be totally arbitrary. And what recourse would a property owner have? Little or none. I have serious concerns that private property rights will be trampled, and that, once started, will escalate to an unanticipated degree. The consequences to many citizens of California would be devastating. California does not need a bigger government, increased regulation, or a “shadow” government comprised of unelected individuals. I am unwilling to trade my property rights for the mere promise of perceived future benefits. I urged Governor Brown to reject SB1 and insist that the citizens of California retain their Constitution guarantees and property rights.

  • guest

    hopefully approved a bill that Governor Jerry Brown can be useful for the society, especially the obat keputihan gatal crystal X

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