A Strong Year for CDA’s Government Affairs Program – Organization Positioned to Engage on Affordable Housing, Homelessness & Public Space Management Issues in 2019
The leadership of the California Downtown Association was heavily engaged in a number of critical policy areas as 2018 was another strong year for the Association’s advocacy efforts. Focusing in on the organization’s three top priorities a. housing, b. public space management and c. BID operational efficiency, CDA saw significant legislative activity in 2018. With heightened interest in tackling the lack of affordable housing and providing solutions to address homelessness, 2019 will open up new opportunities for CDA to engage the Legislature and newly-elected Governor.
Affordable Housing / Homelessness
CDA support two major statewide ballot measures and played an important role in the campaign to support Propositions 1 & 2 on the November ballot. Prop. 1 authorizes $4 billion in bonds to build and provide affordable housing for veterans, working families, people with disabilities. Prop. 2 will build supportive housing for people living with a serious mental illness who are homeless or at great risk of becoming homeless and providing intensive coordinated care including mental health and addiction services, medical treatment, case management, education and job training.
While these two ballot measures will make an important impact on housing and homeless services, we know more needs to be done. The Legislature and Governor-elect have prioritized these issues for 2019 and we have already seen a number of important bills introduced that seek to provide additional ongoing resources to assist with new housing opportunities and supportive services to those who are in need. There are a number of bills in this area, the following are the highlights:
SB 5 (Beall, D-San Jose & McGuire, D-Santa Rosa)
Sets aside $200 million in property tax dollars for low-income housing. This bill will be part of a series of housing bills the two Senators will introduce this year that will streamline permitting, increasing density without a one-size-fits-all approach, as well as updating surplus property identification.
AB 11 (Chiu, D-San Francisco)
Reinstitutes a “redevelopment-like” system allowing cities/counties to keep property tax dollars in certain areas to fund economic development and affordable housing. The bill requires 30% of that money to be used for low-income housing.
SB 50 (Wiener, D-San Francisco)
Would prevent cities from blocking new housing units within a half-mile of transit or job centers. Similar provisions as 2018’s SB 827, except this year’s bill exempts communities that already created a transit-oriented development plan which will remove opposition of some cities who were opposed to SB 827 like the City of LA. Organized construction labor is now supportive of SB 50 because of the labor standards imbedded in the bill – they had opposed SB 827.
Public Space Management
CDA took an active role and ultimately opposed SB 946 (Lara, D-Long Beach) which restricts a local jurisdiction’s ability to regulate time, place, manner, and number of permitted sidewalk vendors to directly related objective health, safety, and welfare concerns. Although CDA maintained an “oppose” position on SB 946, advocacy efforts were critical in securing amendments to the bill that allow a city to prohibit sidewalk vendors in areas located within the vicinity of a permitted certified farmers’ market or area designated for a temporary special permit. The amendments add higher fines for vending without the appropriate permit and requires sidewalk vendors to hold business licenses, maintain health and safety policies and pay all state and local taxes under the law.
CDA believes additional work is needed to ensure local governments have the tools to authorize sidewalk vending and appropriately limit where that activity can occur. It is not uncommon for jurisdictions to regulate commercial activity based on factors other than health, safety, and welfare concerns, as many jurisdictions designate areas of a community for specific uses including medical facilities, office buildings, restaurants, bars, and nightclubs. Under SB 946, sidewalk vendors would be regulated differently than other entrepreneurs. We know there is interest in pursuing “clean-up legislation” in 2019 to address some of the concerns that CDA and others expressed during discussions around SB 946. We anticipate legislation to be introduced next year and CDA will look to play an active role in those discussions next year.
Public Safety and Serial Theft
CDA played an active role in SB 916 (Wiener) – a bill that would help to protect visitors and tourists from vehicle break-ins and ensure positive experience for those visiting downtowns within California. In an effort to reduce burglary rates, this bill sought to reform burglary of a vehicle by expanding the definition to include entering a vehicle by forced entry. Currently, prosecutors must prove a car door was physically locked as part of an auto break-in. This evidence is especially needed in cases where the victim is unavailable or unknown which is prevalent amongst victims who are tourists since they are unable to return to the jurisdiction where the crime was committed to verify the crime occurred.
Although the bill was not passed in 2018, Senator Wiener has introduced SB 23 which would trigger stronger sentencing for criminals who enter a vehicle with the intent to commit a theft. CDA will continue to engage on this important public safety issue for our downtowns.
Bryant Government Affairs
December 2018 Legislative Update