Governor Signs Huffman's Housing Bill

As of January, there will be more flexibility for meeting the state mandates for housing units.

Novato’s affordable housing tug-of-war is , but there was big news out of Sacramento on Thursday on the subject. Gov. Jerry Brown signed the Assembly bill authored by Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, designed to provide more flexibility for local governments to meet state-mandated housing quotas.

Novato residents erupted last year when they started to understand the rules about cities meeting workforce housing needs. Novato was in the middle of the housing element portion of its periodic general plan update and needed to identify specific properties around town where housing could be constructed to meet state and regional quotas. The result was — sometimes raucous and vein-popping — about how much power the state should have over a city’s housing responsibilities.

Huffman worked with city and county officials, including — who represents most of Novato — on crafting Assembly Bill 1103, which starting Jan. 1, 2012, will adjust local housing element requirements by providing incentives for transit-oriented development and more wiggle room for local governments in meeting the mandates. See the text of the bill for all the details.

Huffman said he was pleased the governor “saw the need to reform the current one-size-fits-all approach in housing element law,” he said in a press release. “This bill will allow local governments to convert vacant, foreclosed homes to low or very-low income housing as a way to meet their affordable housing goals.”   

Arnold, the Fifth District supervisor in Marin, said Huffman has made it easier for Marin County to acquire existing housing that will count for affordable housing quotas. “He has worked doggedly to get this bill signed, and we owe him our thanks,” she said in the release. 

Huffman and Arnold negotiated for about nine months with city and county officials and housing advocates to address housing element law. The state Department of Housing and Community Development sets regional quotas based on population growth and need and requires municipalities to demonstrate an ability to provide for sufficient housing by use of property zoning. It also uses a complicated and controversial formula to set density defaults. 

Huffman’s proposal to create a process for cities and counties to apply for density default re-designations was removed from the bill, but he has asked an advisory group at state housing department to analyze the impact of default densities for residential zoning and consider to including senior housing in the framework.

Thomas September 02, 2011 at 12:09 AM
This is certainly interesting, and I am reserved of an opinion on it as I become more informed on what it really is and what it really means. I did find this quote something to highlight: "Huffman and Arnold negotiated for about nine months with city and county officials and housing advocates to address housing element law." Who are "housing advocates"? Are they private entities such as not-for-profit special interest groups? If so, why do they get a special chair at the table in negotiating while the property tax payers of Novato don't? We would be told that's what our representatives are for (as in republic), but then a private organization gets a special voice? How is that correct? Am I wrong?
Bob Ratto September 02, 2011 at 12:23 AM
You are not wrong. MCF has an extreme amount of power in the community, and funds many of these groups, who then can fund start up groups, like what happened with SUNN. The Huffman bill was originally intended to recognize that Marin had density characteristics more akin to Sonoma than San Francisco, but it was gutted in Committee by Dana Torres, who is from Pomona which is basically a ghetto in Southern California. At first read at least the bill takes some pressure off the need for extreme density, by allowing for foreclosures and second units. If the City wanted to find out how many second units there are, they would be wise to do some work in this area...like an amnesty program.
Ryan September 02, 2011 at 06:52 AM
You guys are so paranoid. This is one area where all sides agreed that it was good for Novato. There was collaboration and it worked. Enjoy it for a second instead of immediately resorting to negative comments. I think this town has had enough of that.
Thomas September 02, 2011 at 07:26 AM
What is this, high school? Did you read my comments? Are you a critical thinker or is any dialogue and questions going to be "bad talk" to you? What is it with some people and their assumptions? My only question is about what this "housing advocate" group was from the story as written. No one is being "paranoid", don't be foolish. Show me the "negative comments" made? Or are you just trolling?
Bob Ratto September 02, 2011 at 01:51 PM
Paranoid?...sorry, you got the wrong guy. I was answering a question, and stating some facts (and opinions) that I thought were relevant; sorry you took it as something else
Jerome J Ghigliotti Jr September 02, 2011 at 02:43 PM
Housing quotas are leftist social engineering designed to make every city in California identical. The results are cities like Richmond and Antioch, where the residents are afraid to come out of their homes. Housing quotas, any housing quotas, are being done against the will of the people from whom legislators derive their power to govern. Modifying how Novato can meet housing quotas is like responding to a law that requires cutting off the right hand of everyone, so that everyone will have equal difficulty handling things, to now require that the state can cut off no more than two fingers per hand. That is NOT the kind of equality that the Constitution envisioned.
Hutch Turner September 04, 2011 at 11:45 PM
Hoffman’s bill was gutted behind closed doors by the Marin AH special interest insider groups before it ever reached the Assembly Committee. It was cooked and baked until it became nothing more than political eyewash. Hoffman’s flaccid response to removal of “the” key element concerning Marin’s urban classification is weenie politics among the Marin County Democratic Party literati. He could have at least publically faked “a good fight”. Judy Arnold’s public slathering of AH Kumbaya mustard on this DOA but politically correct weenie puts Judy Arnold in the high density affordable housing corner. She can no longer straddle the issue as she so desperately tries to do. This fight over mother government ruling by fiat is going to get even more intense. The problem is that all the office holders belong to the same political party. It seems past time to change that.
Thomas September 05, 2011 at 05:43 AM
Well said. ...And that you illuminated a core issue in this problem.


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