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How recall candidates would boost California housing

California’s housing shortage has become a focal point in the race to replace Gov. Gavin Newsom, as candidates pledge to supercharge home construction by removing bureaucratic hurdles for developers and streamlining construction approvals.

By September 14, voters could consider the state’s astronomical housing costs driven by decades of stunted house building, begging the question: What, if anything, would replacement candidates do?

Of the top four candidates who responded to The Times’ requests – Kevin Faulconer, John Cox, Kevin Kiley and Kevin Paffrath – all said they would use the governor’s office intimidation chair to reform or repeal the California Environmental Quality Act . But it’s unclear how they would do it in conjunction with the Democratic-controlled legislature.

Although Larry Elder and Caitlyn Jenner did not respond to requests for comment on their plans to boost housing development in the state, they both expressed similar ideas.

The California Environmental Quality Act of 1970 was intended to mitigate the environmental effects of public projects. Since then, critics have argued that it has become a tool for development opponents to delay and derail projects with litigation, especially multi-family or low-income housing.

Targeted legislation has reduced its impact, on emergency housing for the homeless, for example, but the broad reform of CEQA has always lacked political support. A new governor would walk on the same chessboard of task forces, those who build affordable housing, market rate developers and real estate agents who have thwarted many recent attempts to increase the supply of housing.

For his part, Newsom pledged to help facilitate the construction of millions of new units during his 2018 gubernatorial campaign, but housing production in the state declined slightly in his first two years in office – although these numbers are starting to increase this year.

The governor’s work on housing production included streamlining approvals to house the homeless at the height of the pandemic and signing legislation that encouraged the development of grandma’s apartments in residential neighborhoods. .

Here’s what the candidates to replace Newsom in the recall election say they will do to ensure more housing is built in California.

John cox

John Cox, who worked for years as a real estate developer in Indiana, said all homes should be exempt from CEQA. Shortening the approval time for projects and lowering environmental impact fees would lower construction costs and spill over to house prices, he said.

Instead of the state allowing the construction of multi-family apartments in single-family neighborhoods, he said “there is a lot of land in California to build on” and noted the potential for new outlying communities along major highways. .

“I will have a plan to build more housing at a lower cost than I propose to the Legislature,” he said of the political challenges of reforming CEQA. “If they kill it … this legislature is not a legislature that has been around forever.” They are elected every two years.

Kevin faulconer

Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer highlighted his experience in encouraging development in that city, where he conducted a city-wide environmental impact report to streamline the construction of homes near local communities. public transport.

Housing growth should be concentrated near jobs and public transport, not an hour from urban centers “perpetuating sprawl,” he said. But projects that take years to go through the approval process cost too much.

“This governor has not had the political will to make the necessary changes,” he said, suggesting that a new governor could change the circumstances. “I’m going to take exactly the same approach as the governor, use this bully chair, because again, inaction isn’t going to do it.”

Kevin kiley

MP Kevin Kiley (R-Rocklin) also wants CEQA to be ‘reformed if not eliminated’, with reduced permit fees to reduce the costs of developing new housing along major transportation corridors and on available land outside. towns.

Kiley, who voted for this year’s most important housing bill that would allow modest new developments in single-family neighborhoods on the Assembly Housing Committee, said a Republican in the office of the governor would push the legislature to act.

“I’m not going to come and say, ‘OK, here’s a list of several dozen different fees that need to be lowered to this level.’ But I will define the parameters of this debate, ”he said. “I would demand action from the legislature and if the legislature did not act, I would bring the matter back to the voters in 2022.”

Kevin Paffrath

With the help of CEQA reform and lower development costs, real estate broker and YouTube personality Kevin Paffrath aims to spearhead the mass development of low-cost housing outside of cities for avoid traffic jams.

The Democratic candidate highlighted the planned community of RiverPark in Oxnard, which has nearly 3,000 units of single-family homes, townhouses, apartments, senior residences and affordable housing around a shopping center.

Building accessory units in single-family Los Angeles neighborhoods does nothing for affordability, he said. A large-scale $ 300,000 housing stock outside the state’s major cities would lower median home prices, Paffrath said.

“A strong leader in California can negotiate a win-win housing infrastructure bill, where we can work with green housing affordability groups and anything that allows us to make sure we could have regulation of housing. common sense that is finally opening the floodgates to real housing development in California. ,” he said.