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How Construction Unions Helped Kill Gov. Brown’s Plan To Fight The Housing Crisis

Source: bizjournals.com | Re-Post MNM Partners, LLC 9/2/2016

Jerry Brown 300 wide

It was the boldest California housing policy proposal in years: Allow any residential project that complies with local zoning and sets aside as few as five percent of its units as affordable to be built “as of right,” removing review from local municipalities. The idea was to fast-track approvals and reduce the cost of building as the state struggles with a crushing housing crisis.

But after three months of debate and widespread opposition, the proposal by Gov. Jerry Brown, meant to boost the state’s housing production in the face of record-high housing prices, appears to be dead. State Assembly speaker Anthony Rendon said last week that discussions on the proposal were over, as first reported by the Sacramento Bee. The state’s Department of Housing and Community Development, which has been advocating for the proposal on behalf of Brown, declined to comment on negotiations.

Dozens of community groups, environmentalists and the League of California Cities – and even some tenant groups – opposed the measure. One of the most powerful opponents of the bill was a sector that could directly benefit from more development: construction labor unions.

“The death blow was dealt by the construction trades,” said Matt Regan, senior vice president of public policy at the Bay Area Council, the region’s largest business group, which supported the proposal. With such strong opposition, no state senators or assembly members publicly supported the measure.

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