Under SB 862, signed by Governor Jerry Brown just three weeks ago, California's Strategic Growth Council suddenly has $130 million to fund the first year of a new Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities (AHSC) program, and after that a promise of ongoing funding from cap-and-trade revenues.
Last week the SGC met to take stock of its budgetary good fortune. It was a happy meeting as meetings go, but some positions on uses for the money were quietly being staked out. The Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities program will fund planning and construction to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by means consistent with SB 375 and AB 32, coordinating energy-efficient transportation, land conservation and compact housing growth.
The program will be shaped by its overarching statutory scheme, but there's room within it for a lot of different organizational structures and funding choices, as shown by questions raised at the meeting: Would the program focus on urban transit-oriented development, or could it fund more varied and more rural projects? Among the goals of housing, conservation and transportation efficiency, would one predominate? Would one of the state agencies partnering with SGC assert primary control? How much power would locally affected people and organizations have over the nature of promised benefits to disadvantaged communities? How would larger nonprofits be involved? And -- as Bill Higgins of the California Association of Councils of Government (CALCOG) has suggested -- should regional planning entities help allocate the money?
Workshops to take public comment on creating the program guidelines are to be announced soon, probably for August.