Housing Politics: Think Regionally, Lose Locally

Two Bay Area city council members serving on a regional commission suffered the political consequences of supporting a controversial regional housing initiative, not from their constituents, but from their colleagues.
February 1, 2019, 12pm PST | Irvin Dawid
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Redwood City, California.
Ed Bierman

Rachel Swan reports for the San Francisco Chronicle on the second city council member who serves on 21-member Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) to suffer political consequences for voting on Dec. 19 to authorize the commission's approval of the Committee to House the Bay Area (CASA) Compact, a new 15-year regional initiative to address the Bay Area’s housing crisis that includes building 35,000 homes a year throughout the region.

Redwood City Councilwoman Alicia Aguirre lost her spot on the MTC last week. She represented San Mateo County, where mayors of 20 cities regularly meet to select members of boards and commissions. Several mayors told Aguirre that because she backed CASA, “they couldn’t vote for me.”

As posted Jan. 25 after the Bay Area's other major regional planning agency, the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) executive board, voted 21-9 in favor of the CASA Compact, veteran Rohnert Park Councilman Jake Mackenzie, who chairs the MTC and voted to approve the compact, was "stripped by his own City Council Tuesday night [Jan. 22] of influential posts on the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit board and [the Sonoma County Transportation Authority]," reported Kevin Fixler for The Press Democrat.

Earlier this month at a City Council meeting, he faced an hourlong tongue lashing from each of his four fellow council members for backing the CASA Compact... 

"Mackenzie is up for reappointment to the MTC," adds Swan. "His fate lies with a selection committee of nine [Sonoma County] mayors who will vote Thursday [Jan 31], and then pass their recommendation along to the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors for a final confirmation next month.

The political consequences suffered by Mackenzie and Aguirre "signal that sharp disagreements remain over how to address the regional housing crisis," writes Swan.

 Leaders in some communities feel they are being forced into policies emanating from San Francisco and Oakland, while others see aggressive regional action as imperative.

The CASA Compact [pdf], which pushes a 10-point agenda based on the "three Ps: Production, Preservation, and Protection," "will likely serve as a guide — and as political ammunition — for new state legislation," continues Swan. "Besides setting housing goals, CASA recommends adding taxes, loosening zoning near transit centers and establishing a regional rent cap, among other things."

Hat tip to MTC Transportation Headlines.

Full Story:
Published on Thursday, January 31, 2019 in San Francisco Chronicle
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