A Note from Our Neighborhood Voices: California residents aren’t against building more affordable housing – and neither are we. In fact our initiative exempts 100% affordable projects. But we are against Sacramento allowing for-profit developers to bulldoze and gentrify single-family neighborhoods for profit. We believe residents have the right to have a say about the future of their communities. That’s what our initiative is about, and that’s why so many Californians have joined our coalition. If you want to learn more, or get involved, join us using the form below.
This article originally appeared in Politico
THE BUZZ — A TEARDOWN: Amid soaring home prices — and rising homelessness — the debate about where and how to build more housing in California is about to get more intense.
At least 110 mayors and members of city councils have mobilized into a coalition aiming to take a sledgehammer to the state’s efforts to force local governments to approve more multi-family housing.
Our Neighborhood Voices is collecting signatures for a ballot initiative that would kneecap housing legislation by giving cities and counties wide latitude to sidestep California housing law if it conflicts with local land use and zoning rules, i.e. those that tend to favor single-family homes that have become out of reach for many people.
It’s a direct challenge to Gov. Gavin Newsom, who signed the legislation and has pushed reluctant cities to build more multi-family housing, and the lawmakers associated with the Yes-in-My-Backyard movement that has sought to challenge restrictive zoning.
In other words, it’s the YIMBY’s vs. the NIMBY’s — and some of the former see it as an existential threat.
“It’s dangerous,” Assemblyman Matt Haney, the YIMBY-aligned chair of the legislative Renters Caucus, told Playbook. “When you say you can’t build here or there or there, we find ourselves in a housing crisis.”
Our Neighborhood Voices argues that the state’s requirements lead mostly to new luxury and market-rate apartments, doing little to increase the supply of affordable housing and fueling gentrification. It’s “based on a trickle-down model,” says Kalimah A. Priforce, an Emeryville councilmember and proponent of the initiative, which includes a carve out for 100% affordable projects.
Early indications are that voters have shifted toward the YIMBY camp. The Public Policy Institute of California found in a recent survey that 59 percent of likely voters support changing local permitting rules and state environmental regulations to make housing more affordable while 39 percent oppose that approach.
But, as they say, all politics is local. Opinions could change between now and November 2024, when the coalition hopes to make the ballot — and how much money they can raise.
It had looked like the measure’s angel investor would be Michael Weinstein, the head of the nonprofit AIDS Healthcare Foundation. But Weinstein, whose organization is focused on its third statewide rent control push in four cycles, is adamant he doesn’t plan to get involved despite giving $50,000 to the group in late 2021.
Meanwhile, lawmakers will be anxiously waiting to see if Our Neighborhood Voices has another mega donor — and if Weinstein remains out of the fight.