No new taxes for Oakley residents. The California Legislature is at it again. This time, they want to place a ten-billion-dollar bond fund on the ballot to raise money for affordable housing. The legislation is titled AB 1657. A statewide vote will determine if the state issues bonds to accumulate the funds and that the money will be distributed to counties and cities to build affordable housing.
The bonds will be financed through various forms of taxation to cover the repayment cost. The money will eventually be allocated from the general fund. We all know that the State Senate and Assembly have no qualms about configuring various measures to increase taxes for such repayment plans.
The Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) pushes the legislation and encourages cities throughout the state to support it. Mayor of Berkeley Jesse Arreguin began discussing the bill in 2022, saying it was a way to reallocate affordable housing to be built “where land is available” (in other words, East Contra Costa County, Solano County, among others). Mayor Arreguin said Berkeley should not have to build many affordable housing units as RHNA required predominantly low-income housing. It was more equitable to create such units in areas such as Oakley, thus dropping the number of units allocated to be built in Oakley.
The bill, introduced by Assemblymember Buffy Wicks, who represents Berkeley, Richmond, and other cities in the West Contra Costa County area, does contain a provision that allows the legislature to alter the RHNA numbers. Sections 5406(a)(b)(c) enable the legislature to make changes to affordable housing laws “at will.” I have listed a link to AB1657 below and highlighted the sections above.
In short, I perceive AB1657 as an “end run” around cities such as Oakley and Brentwood by Mayor Arreguin and other cities in the East Bay coastal areas. This is the time to contact your council members and encourage them to oppose the bill.
The City Council meeting to consider the item is this Tuesday night, October 10, 2023, at 6:30 p.m.
George Fuller, Ed.D. City Councilmember, City of Oakley, CA