By Kim Murphy
Murphy & Murphy Southern California Realty 

Real Estate Round-Up: Housing and the legislature


Last updated 5/14/2019 at 9:41am

I’m writing to you from Sacramento. Each year, approximately 2,500 Realtors gather there with the specific goal of meeting with our legislative representatives. Realtors meet with the legislators to speak in favor of protecting private property rights and defending home ownership.

Currently, home ownership is at a crisis point. California is comprised of only 55% homeowners and 45% renters. We are also the home of nearly 20% of the nation’s homeless population, with over 50% of that 20% residing in Los Angeles.

There are over 200 legislative bills pertaining to housing this year. Those bills cover vast and diverse subjects pertaining to housing, from defining affordable workforce housing to creating ways to streamline the process of building housing. Gov. Gavin Newsome shared about his administration’s goal of building 3,500,000 homes across the state by 2025. That number equates to 500,000 homes each year.

Historically, the state has never built that many homes in a year, and most recently has been building under 100,000 homes per year. It is an enormous goal and has not been met with strong support or commitment from the Legislative body other than as a talking point.

Senate Bill 50, written by Sen. Scott Weiner, D-San Francisco, has received the greatest traction and relates to building within transit corridors that would include project bonuses for new developments. In other words, projects that build along these corridors would be allowed more units than the current density permits.

This bill encourages midrise, multi-family unit housing constructions with close walkable access to bus, rail or ferry transit. It would also permit local government to approve ordinances that may include in-lieu fees, land dedication, off-site construction or acquisition and rehabilitation of existing units to meet the affordable housing component.

Higher density may be approved with reduced parking requirements provided that the project is adjacent to transit or near jobs. The goal is to increase the supply of housing so families can afford to live in the communities in which they work.

Currently California ranks 49th lowest in the nation in housing units per resident with job growth far outpacing housing starts. The bill applies to counties over 600,000 or in cities with over 50,000 residents.

Despite the positive sound bite, many communities continue to oppose specific projects that come before their governing bodies. Which gets me back to how this bill is a great talking point, but does not currently appear to have the teeth it needs to reach compliance. If, however, this goal is the true will of the governor, which I believe it is, communities should be prepared to see consequences for their lack of compliance.

The California Association of Realtors supports homeownership. It also respects and supports the need for individual governing bodies to determine their specific plan for compliance. There is a “Super Majority” within the legislature, which means that the party in control does not need to get consensus in order to pass legislation that they believe is needed. When all the factors are put together, you realize that the path California Association of Realtors walks requires persistence, patience and compromise.

Fallbrook, with the addition of Horse Creek Ridge and other approved communities along Interstate 15, is helping San Diego County meet their goals. Another way a community like Fallbrook can participate to the overall housing numbers is within the structure of accessory dwelling units.

San Diego County has eliminated all permit and building fees for these units for the next five years. All set-back requirements must still be adhered to as well as septic limitations if applicable. The unit’s size can be as large as the original structure. They can be used as a rental or not. Impact fees for schools, safety services, water, etc. remain intact. Another way to participate is in the construction of new custom homes that include a guest house from the onset.

In the next weeks’ articles, I will share with you some of the other housing proposals that are before the legislature. Don’t shoot the messenger. Despite Fallbrook’s understandable reluctance to add more units, we need to find a way that works with our current character, while still participating in the state’s mandate.

A message that resonated with me at these meetings is this: “If you’re not at the table (for the discussion), you are on the menu.” My future articles will help you be informed, so as a community we can be at the table.

Kim Murphy can be reached at [email protected] or (760) 415-9292 or at 130 N. Main Avenue in Fallbrook. Her broker license is #01229921, and she is on the board of directors for the California Association of Realtors.


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