Abundant Housing LA & CA YIMBY Respond to LA City Council Vote on SB 50- the More HOMES Act


Sacramento, CA and Los Angeles – California YIMBY and Abundant Housing LA offer the following joint response to the vote of the Los Angeles City Council to oppose SB 50, the More HOMES Act:

“California YIMBY is proud of our work with advocates across Los Angeles, and around the state, to ensure that Senate Bill 50 — the More HOMES Act — does what it is designed to do: Help accelerate progress in solving our historic housing crisis,” said Brian Hanlon, President of California YIMBY.

“It’s unfortunate that the LA City Council decided to hold this vote without waiting for their own planning department’s analysis, and without hearing from local advocates who are committed to making sure SB 50 is as effective and impactful in Los Angeles as it is across the rest of the state.”

“Angelenos want more homes, lower rents and an end to homelessness, and they expect solutions at both the state and local levels,” said Mark Vallianatos, Policy Director for Abundant Housing LA. “Opposing the More HOMES act makes it seem like the City Council is more concerned with their own power than with ensuring that people can afford to live in Los Angeles.”

“Too many of our cities, including Los Angeles, have failed to step up to the challenge of solving the housing crisis, and, worse, have chosen to aggressively ignore it — or actively make it worse,” said Hanlon. “Ironically, SB 50 builds on Los Angeles’ leadership in finding creative solutions to increasing housing affordability – like the TOC program – so it’s odd that they chose to undermine a program modeled on their own existing policies.”

“We feel confident that history is on our side, even if the LA City Council is not today, and we will continue to push ahead with our efforts to resolve the housing crisis with all deliberate speed and make sure that California is truly for everyone.”

According to independent feasibility analysis of SB 50 conducted by MapCraft Labs and UC Berkeley’s Urban Displacement Project, SB 50 has the ability to create more deed-restricted affordable housing for “extremely low-income” Californians (including Californians with no income) than the cumulative, sum total efforts of every state and local inclusionary program that’s existed since the state passed the Density Bonus Law in 1979.

The analysis shows that the Bay Area, for example, would see over 30,000 homes affordable to extremely low-income Californians, and over 100,000 below-market rate homes for workers

making less than area median incomes (AMI) – an increase of over 500% from the current legal baseline. We’d expect to see similar boosts to new homes in L.A. County.

Following is a point-by-point refutation of false or misleading statements made by LA City Council Members about SB 50:

  • Myth: SB 50 removes local control.
  • Fact: SB 50 doesn’t change the local housing approval process, design review standards, demolition restrictions, impact fees, affordability requirements if higher than what SB 50 requires, or building height limits except in areas adjacent to train stations.
  • Myth: SB 50 does not do enough to encourage more affordable housing.
  • Fact: SB 50 requires from 15 to 25 percent affordable, below-market-rate housing for every project approved under its provisions — the biggest such inclusionary housing requirement in state law. In addition, cities that already have, or wish to pursue, higher levels of affordable housing, can continue to use those higher standards.
  • Myth: The state doesn’t know what we need at the local level; this “one size fits all” approach won’t work.
  • Fact: Currently, most California cities are dominated by “one size fits all” zoning for single-family homes. SB 50 would help diversify the housing mix in these cities, many of which have banned multi-family housing on as much as 80% of their urban land. In addition, other state rules that preempt city restrictions have led to more housing production. New state law encouraging accessory dwelling units, or “granny flats,” has led to a boom in ADU construction across LA, and around the state. Cities that now celebrate these ADUs as a key component to solving the housing crisis were once adamantly opposed to their construction. SB 50 doesn’t mandate a building type, or cost, or size, but rather makes it legal to build more housing of all types in places near transit and jobs where it is currently illegal to do so.
  • Myth: Los Angeles is currently experiencing a construction boom that will solve the housing crisis.
  • Fact: The California Housing Partnership estimates that L.A. County has a deficit of 550,000 affordable rental homes needed to reduce high rent burdens and overcrowding, and L.A. City (40 percent of L.A. County’s population) has a deficit of about 220,000 affordable homes. The region also needs more market rate homes to address high rents for workers who don’t qualify for below-market rentals. 2018 was a decent year for home building in the city, with building permits for close to 20,000 homes and certificates of occupancy for more than 13,000 homes issued. But coming after decades of low housing production, and the fact that multi-family homes are illegal in 80 percent of the city, the city and broader region still have a large gap to fill.
  • Myth: SB 50 steps on LA’s efforts to promote its TOC program.
  • Fact: SB 50 deliberately holds up LA’s TOC program as a model for housing development in the city by protecting the TOC density bonus and expanding it to more properties. SB 50 specifically includes elements from L.A.’s measure JJJ, which created the TOC program.

L.A.’s Housing Crisis: Just the Facts

  • Multi-family homes are illegal across 80% of Los Angeles.
  • More than 31,000 L.A. City residents are homeless, a number that increased significantly since 2010.
  • 60 percent of households are “rent burdened” under the federal definition of spending more than 30 percent of their income on housing, and a third of residents spend more than half of their income on rent.  
  • The disparity between rising rents and stagnant incomes in Los Angeles makes the situation worse than in almost any other metro region. Over 20,000 rent stabilized apartments have been lost since 2001 in the City of L.A., with households evicted from many of these units. Hundreds of thousands of families live in overcrowded dwellings.
  • Between 2006 and 2014, 350,000 young adults in L.A. County delayed forming their own household due to high housing costs and instead kept living with their parents.
  • Homes are so expensive to rent or buy the state of California and L.A. county have experienced a net outflow of households earning less than $110,000 per year.
  • 59 percent of voters in L.A. County have considered moving due to housing costs.

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The More HOMES Act is co-sponsored by California YIMBY, the Non-profit Housing Association of Northern California, the California Association of Realtors, and supported by the State Building and Construction Trades Council, Habitat for Humanity, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Abundant Housing LA, AARP California, the California League of Conservation Voters, the California Chamber of Commerce, CALPIRG, Environment California, the LA Chamber of Commerce, the California Apartment Association, the Bay Area Council, Environment California, the San Francisco Housing Action Coalition, the California Renters Legal Advocacy and Education Fund (CaRLA), and a host of other renter, environmental, business, and labor organizations.

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About Abundant Housing LA: Abundant Housing LA is committed to education and advocacy on the affordability, livability, and sustainability benefits of more housing. We want lower rents and a more sustainable and prosperous region, where everyone has more choices of where to live and how to pursue their dreams.

About California YIMBY: California YIMBY is a community of neighbors who welcome more neighbors. We believe that an equitable California begins with abundant, secure, affordable housing. We focus on housing and land use policy at the state and local level to ensure grassroots organizers and city leaders have the tools they need to accelerate home building. https://cayimby.org/

California YIMBY is a co-sponsor of the More HOMES Act. To learn more, visit http://cayim.by/morehomes