Sunday, March 20, 2011

CA legislature: big worries and small hopes

Housing California posted a sad slew of news about the California housing legislative picture in its March 17 newsletter. It's worth reading as a core sample of the current Sacramento madness. Fortunately, even while entire programs sit on hold for lack of funding, the newsletter contains reminders that hopeful projects are always going on in the fine grain of a legislative picture. For example, it mentions some piecemeal housing subsidy efforts, a couple of nice protective bills for homeless youth, and the interesting AB 1220.

AB 1220 would expand citizens' rights to force municipal attention to affordable housing. It would override an effect of a 2008 state appellate decision, Urban Habitat v. City of Pleasanton, which imposed a 90-day time limit on the rights of local activists and others to file suit over problems in the required "housing element" of a city's General Plan. Instead, the bill would give them five years.

A General Plan is in some ways a box of platitudes (here's the Los Angeles document if you want to look), but the Housing Element is required to spell out promises that have to be kept. Fixing a Housing Element can mean fixing a city government's level of attention to keeping people indoors. So the bill is a good thing to root for.

For now AB 1220 is merely introduced -- here's a copy of the bill, which contains a helpful plain-language statement of its rationale. If and when it moves on, updates can be found the California Legislature's bill search site.

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