Sat. Feb 4th, 2023

Opinion By Jon Coupal – October 19, 2022

(Excerpts)

Much of what government does is wasteful, ineffective, and redundant. For example, Senate Bill 679 was recently signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom as part of the “housing and homelessness package” of bills intended to address the state’s housing shortage. While no one disputes the severity of California’s housing crisis, this legislation is seriously flawed.

SB 679 establishes the Los Angeles County Affordable Housing Solutions Agency and authorizes the agency to, among other things, raise and allocate taxes, incur indebtedness, and place tax measures on the ballot in Los Angeles County.

HJTA opposed 1487 because it was focused just on raising revenue without seriously considering real solutions to the housing crisis. Authorizing new and increased parcel taxes when only 30% of Californians can afford a median priced home won’t do anything to increase homeownership and, in fact, reduces affordability. 

While most housing decisions belong with local governments, state policies could help, including by lowering impact fees, reforming inclusionary zoning to actually incentivize unit development, and removing costly mandates on new development.

In opposition, the California Taxpayers Association made the same point: “The creation of an additional housing agency with the same taxing authority as local jurisdictions is unnecessary and inefficient. Additionally, the new agency would have the ability to impose countywide taxes and use the revenue for projects that do not benefit the taxpayers in all of the cities being taxed.”

We suspect that the real purpose of SB 679 is to give local politicians “plausible deniability” that they are responsible for raising taxes. “It’s not us,” they’ll be able to claim. It’s the state’s high taxes and onerous regulatory regime that slow development to a crawl and dramatically drive up the cost of construction. Adding another layer of taxation isn’t the solution.

Jon Coupal is president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.

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