Sacramento’s mayor and San Diego’s mayor have different political perspectives, clearly evident in PPIC’s “Building California’s Future” event last week. Their views diverged on issues from high-speed rail to the voting requirements for passage of local transportation tax measures. But the mayors reached some consensus on one issue: the need for more housing and the difficulty of building the political will to end the state’s housing crisis.
“I don’t see the political coalition around housing that I see around transportation,” said Darrell Steinberg, Sacramento’s Democratic mayor.
“I could not agree more,” said Kevin Faulconer, San Diego’s Republican mayor. “It has not gotten the attention it should.”
Asked the single biggest action the state can take this year to help with our housing crisis, both mentioned regulatory reform. Steinberg said robust reform needs to be combined with a source of funding for affordable housing. He said he hoped the state can “combine these two prongs to make it easier to site housing and at the same time provide real funding to be able to subsidize and build affordable housing.”
Faulconer said reform of the 40-year-old California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) is essential. Those who share his views contend that CEQA lawsuits have been used to slow or stop housing developments, even those deemed environmentally friendly. Faulconer said the business and housing climate are important in attracting businesses to California communities.
“We have to have really clear rules of the road, we have to follow those rules of the road,” he said. “We have to get people through the process in a defined amount of time because time is money.”
Housing was also an important part of the discussion in the panel that followed the mayors’ conversation at the PPIC event. Participants included two county supervisors, Kristin Olsen of Stanislaus County and Joe Simitian of Santa Clara County, as well as Lucy Dunn, president and CEO, Orange County Business Council. John Diaz, editorial page editor of the San Francisco Chronicle moderated.