FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: [email protected]
Read our letter to Attorney General Rob Bonta here.
CALIFORNIA – This past week the Our Neighborhood Voices initiative received a title and summary from the office of Attorney General Rob Bonta that is false, misleading and likely to create prejudice against the initiative.
The title and summary provided by Bonta’s office falsely claims that the measure “automatically” overrides the state’s affordable housing laws. It does no such thing. It gives communities the power to shape local growth in a way that better meets affordable housing requirements – and it restores the ability of local communities to negotiate even higher affordable housing rates, which one-size-fits-all laws passed in Sacramento have taken away.
In 2021, Bonta’s own office issued a title and summary for the first draft of this initiative that did not include this misleading language. It correctly stated that the Our Neighborhood Voices initiative would return land-use and zoning decisions back to local communities – instead of forcing top-down mandates on cities that damage neighborhoods and only benefit for-profit developers.
In fact, the Our Neighborhood Voices initiative will increase the chances of more affordable housing being built according to the Legislative Analyst’s Office. In their report, the LAO states that the initiative “May enable additional flexibility for affordable housing development.” This is exactly the intent of the initiative – to help local cities choose which state housing laws work best for them and modify them in ways that will make them more successful.
The only substantial changes in the new version of the initiative submitted to Bonta’s office this year was the addition of a provision that exempts 100% affordable housing projects at 80% of AMI, and a repeal of Article 34 of the California Constitution that makes it more difficult to create affordable housing.
Yet Bonta’s office still added the argumentative and prejudicial language that the initiative would “automatically override” affordable housing laws.
“Bonta’s claim that our initiative would ‘automatically override’ affordable housing laws is clearly and provably false,” Brentwood City Councilmember and initiative proponent Jovita Mendoza said. “Our initiative would allow cities to choose where and how new housing projects get built, instead of forcing them to comply with blanket mandates from Sacramento that give for-profit developers a blank check to gentrify and destroy our communities.”
The laws that the Attorney General’s office is apparently referring to are not even correctly called “affordable housing” laws. Sacramento politicians have given developers the ability to override local communities and governments to build luxury housing with affordable requirements so low that these new projects contribute to displacement and gentrification.
A law like SB9, which eliminated single family zoning in California, is being challenged in court because it was passed on the premise that it WILL create affordable housing, but clearly will not. “There is nothing in laws like SB9 that would get us anywhere close to the number of new affordable units that the state says we need,” said Kalimah Priforce, an Emeryville City Councilmember and advocate for BIPOC homeownership. “Instead, we will continue to see projects that are largely unaffordable to most working families, communities of color, or other Californians who need housing most. ‘Trickle down housing’ doesn’t work – and we certainly shouldn’t be relying on debunked theories to guide important housing decisions in our state.”
“Without a fair and accurate title and summary, our initiative cannot go forward on the 2024 ballot,” explained Susan Candell, Lafayette City Councilmember and proponent of the Our Neighborhood Voices initiative. “We are weighing our options to sue, although such a delay will run out the clock for an initiative like ours – which relies on volunteer efforts to qualify. But our fight for local democracy will go forward – and we won’t stop until we restore our right to have a say in the future of our own communities.”
“In fact this politicized attack against our initiative is just further evidence that Sacramento will continue to put developer profits over the needs of our communities – unless we stand up and fight back. And while we focus our efforts on seeing that this misleading language is changed, we will continue to grow our grassroots coalition and fight back for our neighborhood voice,” said Redondo Beach City Councilmember and supporter of the initiative Nils Nehrenheim.
Learn more about the Our Neighborhood Voices coalition and how you can get involved at www.OurNeighborhoodVoices.com