Opinion: California's Article 34 Drives Segregation and Cripples Affordable Housing. It's Time To Repeal It.

A little-known provision in California's state constitution enables exclusionary policies under the guise of local control.

March 17, 2022, 8:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Riverside, California

Orange Grove / Shutterstock

The Los Angeles Times Editorial Board advocates for the repeal of a "racist, classist provision in the state Constitution that makes it harder to build affordable housing." According to the editorial, "Article 34 was adopted in 1950 amid a discriminatory backlash against public housing. It requires that cities get voter approval before they build 'low-rent housing' funded with public dollars."

"Advocates for the repeal have found in polling that voters have a knee-jerk reaction against giving up their right to control what gets built in their community. But the polls have also found that once voters understand the roots of Article 34 and the way it has fueled segregation and inequality, they support the repeal." To that end, "Advocates are struggling to raise the estimated $20 million necessary to run a successful statewide campaign to educate voters on California’s ugly history of housing discrimination."

The board writes that "Supporting the repeal is a way for civic-minded donors, companies and organizations to help right a historical wrong and remove a barrier to building affordable homes for the most vulnerable residents at a time when the state is mired in homelessness."

Born out of racist mid-century fears after the federal Housing Act of 1949 prohibited explicit racial segregation, the board writes, "It’s a remnant of an era that California should repudiate."

Monday, March 14, 2022 in Los Angeles Times

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