It is now the subject of negotiations between Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders as part of a broader housing package intended to encourage the construction of housing for middleand lower-income families that is also likely to include the more traditional remedy of direct spending to build more housing units.
This is not the first time this state has sought to prod recalcitrant local governments to build housing. Brown tried to push through a measure to force communities to build more affordable housing around a year ago.
That effort, like most in recent years, faltered in the face of opposition from local officials, homeowners and environmentalists, who often see these kinds of measures as enriching developers while threatening the character of some of the most visually striking parts of this state, along the coast and in the mountains.
“It’s giving developers a great gift and not giving residents and voters a chance to cast their opinions about what happens in their own neighborhood,” Helene Schneider, the mayor of Santa Barbara, said of Wiener’s new bill.
But the worsening housing crisis here has created a political environment where prospects for a state housing intervention appear more likely than ever.
“There is a consensus that there is a crisis and we have to address it,” said David Chiu, a San Francisco Democrat who leads the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee. Wiener compared the political atmosphere now to how Californians embraced mandatory water-rationing in response to the five-year drought here.
“We’re at a breaking point in California,” Wiener said. “The drought created opportunities to push forward water policy that would have been impossible before. Given the breadth and depth of the housing crisis in many parts of California, it creates opportunities in the Legislature that didn’t exist before.”