Post-SB 827, California Addresses Infill and Local Planning
In reaction to legislation threatening to usurp local control of housing and land-use policy by the state, California elected officials have been scurrying to reframe the conversation. Some legislators, like State Senator Ben Allen, have introduced permissive legislation where jurisdictions can opt in to participate in new infill finance district. In an interview with The Planning Report, Sen. Allen and MoveLA Director Denny Zane laid out the goal of allowing cities to capture tax increment monies and apply such funds towards affordable housing and transportation infrastructure.
SB 961 has passed unanimously out of two committees, and aims to create funds that also solve first/last-mile transit issues and complete urban greening projects that make neighborhoods more walkable and supportive of public transportation. Zane, who's MoveLA is sponsoring SB 961, explained that the bill would build on efforts in California to create Enhanced Infrastructure Finance Districts and Community Revitalization and Infrastructure Authorities to capture tax increment. SB 961 builds on the Neighborhood Infill Finance and Transit Improvement (NIFTI), which is called NIFTI-2.
When asked about the potential of SB 961 being signed by the Governor, Zane optimistically explained that "everything that might be considered politically challenging about this bill has already been accepted by the governor in another bill."
Sen. Allen's permissive SB 961 aligns with the feelings of mayors and local officials who were dismayed and angered by SB 827's attempt to move the locus of planning from local governments to the state. Redondo Beach Mayor Bill Brand spoke to The Planning Report about his effort to mobilize other mayors to enshrine their local decision-making jurisdiction in the California Constitution. With a housing density greater that San Francisco, Redondo Beach residents were frustrated by SB 827's proposal to upzone large swaths of land without supporting increased investment in transportation infrastructure and new job creation. Mayor Brand stated that state legislation relying on upzoning R1 neighborhoods is a patently "absurd” approach to generating more affordable housing supply.
Read more in The Planning Report.