Sunday, July 23, 2017

SB 35: Agenda 21 and Stack-and-Pack Housing Forever

Janet West of Long Beach, CA has been fighting against the Agenda 21 program, which is determined to remake California's urban and suburban economy and way of life by reducing  men and women to living in closely-packed apartments without cars.

The attack on individual liberty has become so insidious, that ownership of private property has fallen under unprecedented assault.

Check out what SB 35 will do to homeowners and cities if passed:

As an overall view:  SB 35 is complex but essentially will encourage the
building of high density housing which will have no parking
requirements. These developments will be placed in infill areas of
California cities and will be approved by a streamlined process which
eliminates the possibility for cities to hold public hearings and issue
conditional use permits. Although most cities have announced they're in
compliance with RHNA, that doesn't exempt them from this streamlined
process because the "permits issued" criteria is used, which most cities
have not met, and not the "goals" criteria. Most of the funding for
construction will be from federal taxpayer credits for affordable
housing which the developers sell to the banks for cash.

This is my SB 35 analysis so far:

I see three things in the bill that are very concerning.

1) From the bill: "(4) The development satisfies both of the following:
(A) Is located in a locality that the department has determined is
subject to this subparagraph on the basis that the number of units that
have been issued building permits is less than the locality’s share of
the regional housing needs, by income category, for that reporting
period. A locality shall remain eligible under this subparagraph until
the department’s determination for the next reporting period. A locality
shall be subject to this subparagraph if it has not submitted an annual
housing element report to the department pursuant to paragraph (2) of
subdivision (a) of Section 65400 for at least two consecutive years
before the development submitted an application for approval under this
section. (B) ..."

Developers will be able to get approval to build high density
multi-family buildings in infill areas (already developed urban areas)
through a streamlined process. Although most localities (cities) have
announced they're in compliance with Regional Housing Needs Assessment
(RHNA), that doesn't exempt them from this streamlined process because
the "permits issued" criteria is used and not the "goals" criteria. RHNA
compliance, at this point, just means that the locality has set goals
that agree with the RHNA numbers and not that they've issued the permits
to meet the goals. I don't believe there are many localities, if any,
that have issued permits that reach that goal in every income category
as are the conditions in order for this streamlined permit process not
to apply. That's not even something the localities can control. Most
localities will be required to streamline the permit process which will
mean that the developers don't need to get a conditional use permit. If
SB 35 becomes law, citizens won't be aware of the pending developments
which currently come to light during the conditional use permit and
public hearing process.

In the Long Beach "Blue Print for Economic Development" it says: "RHNA
is not a production requirement, it is a production goal." I have heard
Christopher Koontz, Advance Planning Officer say that Long Beach is in
compliance with RHNA. SB 35 states that a locality will be subject to
streamlined processing based on the number of permits issued in each
income category and according to the 2016 Annual Housing Element
Progress Report, our city is not close to meeting that criteria.

2) Basically, there is no expiration date once the developers get these
streamlined permits and there is no way to stop the completion of the
project once the permit is issued.

3) There are no parking requirements if one of four conditions is met.
Two of these conditions are: a) the development is within one half mile
of a bus stop or b) there is a car share vehicle within one block. If
the first condition is not met, the developer only needs to put in a zip
car type vehicle, which pays for itself, in order for there to be no
parking requirements. For the developer, not having to excavate to
provide parking significantly reduces the construction cost.

Federal taxpayer credits will be used to pay for the construction of
these buildings because some of the units will be affordable housing.
The developers can sell these taxpayer credits to the banks for cash and
then use that cash to fund the construction. (see below) In the state of
California there is also a density bonus which is granted when the
building includes affordable housing. This allows additional stories to
be added to the zoning standard.

 From the PBS Frontline video:  "IRS gives billions in tax credits to
the states. Then the states award credits to developers who sell them
for cash to investors - mostly banks. The developers use the cash to
help build apartment buildings and because tax payer money pays for most
of it, they can charge the lower rents which are required. 'The tax
credits give us the equity to build the apartment buildings.' They could
not build these buildings without tax credits."

 From the Denver Post:  "The tax credits — the largest funding mechanism
for income-restricted rental housing nationwide — are designed to
subsidize about 70 percent of the cost of building low-income apartments.
The credits work by incentivizing banks, insurance companies and other
private-sector investors to help finance affordable rentals in exchange
for a dollar-for-dollar reduction in their federal tax liability over 10
Before the election, those investors were often willing to pay $1.10,
maybe $1.15 for $1 in tax credits, White said. Since the election, the
going rate has fallen to 85 to 90 cents. [Because the developers tax
liabilities may go down under the Trump administration]

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