Gov. Brown Signs Bill To Expand Affordable Housing Construction

For immediate release:

(SACRAMENTO, CA) –Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill authored by Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), Chair of the Assembly Democratic Caucus, to prioritize affordable housing construction on surplus lands owned by local governments.

"The lack of affordable housing is changing the identity of our communities," said Ting. "San Francisco is ground zero for working people being driven from their homes. Now, we have more tools available to confront this exodus by making it easier to develop surplus lands owned by local governments into affordable housing."

AB 2135 gives affordable housing development projects the right of first refusal to obtain surplus land held by local governments, gives project developers more time to negotiate the purchase of these surplus lands, and allows the land to be sold for less than fair market value as a developer incentive. The bill also requires housing projects that are 100 percent affordable to receive first priority. If there are no affordable housing bids and the surplus property is transferred to residential development, AB 2135 requires that 25 percent of the units are affordable.

Estimates suggest Ting's legislation could help San Francisco develop over 1,500 units of affordable housing, which equates to four times the total number of housing units completed citywide in 2011.

"Surplus lands are not surplus because they are useless," added Ting. "Many are in desirable locations near commercial centers, jobs and public transportation."

"With land prices significantly driving up rents and mortgages, selling surplus property to affordable home developers at discounted prices is one way cities and counties can use their resources to meet their residents' housing needs," said Julie Snyder, Policy Director at Housing California in a support letter.

A 2012 audit by the City and County of San Francisco revealed that it owns 29 surplus properties and another 26 properties that could be surplus and prioritized for affordable housing projects.

The traditional measure of housing affordability is mortgage/rent that is less than 30% or less of one's income. Households spending more than half of their income on housing are considered to be severely rent-burdened. 80% of extremely low-income households are now classified as severely rent-burdened. 53% of very low-income households are now classified as severely rent-burdened.

Assembly Bill (AB) 2135 passed the State Assembly 50-23 the State Senate 22-10. Further information is available at www.leginfo.ca.gov.