North Bay Leadership Council sent a delegation to our State Capitol on May 22nd to advocate for more housing and the bills that would enable us to achieve that goal. It was very dismaying to see that our urgency about building new homes was not apparent in the Legislature. The Senate Appropriations chair killed the most important housing bill of the year, SB 50 (Wiener) More Homes for All, without even giving it a vote in the committee. Without even a vote in the committee, made up of senators who would have passed the bill out of that committee and moved it forward.
The response in the Capitol gives you a sense that the legislators don’t feel there is a housing crisis. They say, “Let’s just make SB 50 a two year bill and look at again in 2020.” How could this be an acceptable response when our state is underhoused for decades, when we are generating lots of jobs without adding new housing, and when we are experiencing housing losses from fires? How could the Senators not do their part to enable more housing to be built THIS YEAR? Do they not care about the increase in greenhouse gases from more commuters having to commute greater distances to work? Or homelessness is growing throughout the state? Or companies are leaving because they can’t hire workers who can afford to live here? Or the increase in poverty due to the high cost of living caused mostly by the high cost of housing?
NBLC members left Sacramento shaking our heads, but with renewed fervor to keep pushing our housing agenda. We are part of a large coalition pressing Senate Pro Tem Atkins to move some kind of major housing bill this year. We told the Governor’s staff that we want him to push harder for action this year. All the elected officials and their staffs were given an earful about our housing concerns and urged to treat this housing crisis as the crisis it is.
NBLC will keep working with other housing advocates to keep the support we need at the state, regional and local levels so that new housing of all types is built at the earliest possible opportunity. SB 50, or a bill akin to it, needs to pass. The future of the North Bay depends on it.