Members of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® joined 2,500 California REALTORS® in Sacramento on May 1 for the California Association of REALTORS® annual Legislative Day. This year’s theme, “Homeownership Matters,” was evident in the speeches of REALTOR® officials and politicians, and in discussions the REALTORS® had with their respective legislators.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom, the special guest speaker at the morning briefing, said California is experiencing a “crisis moment, a crisis of confidence and a crisis of affordability.”

Newsom is deeply committed to address the housing issue and he wants to build 300,000 to 400,000 units on an annual basis. “Let us not forget that we are better off when we’re all better off,” said Newsom.

State Senator Scott Wiener, author of SB 50, the Housing Development Incentives bill, told REALTORS® at a luncheon that today’s zoning laws, crafted over 50 years ago, are outdated. Wiener said his legislation is about people and people’s lives.

In their meetings with state Senators Jim Beall and Jerry Hill, and Assemblymembers Marc Berman and Evan Low, Silicon Valley REALTORS® asked them to support the REALTOR® position on the following bills:

Vote YES on AB 1590 (Rubio) – First-Time Low- and Moderate-Income Homebuyer Tax Credit for Disadvantaged Communities. C.A.R. is sponsoring this bill which creates a first-time homebuyer tax credit for low- and moderate-income individuals and families purchasing a home in a disadvantaged community. AB 1590 allocates $50 million for first-time homebuyers who have never owned a principal residence; who earn 120 percent or less of the area median income; and who are purchasing a home in a disadvantaged community. The tax credit would be equal to 3 percent of the purchase price of the home or $5,000, whichever is less.

Vote YES on SB 50 (Wiener) – Housing Development Incentives. C.A.R. is co-sponsoring this bill which seeks to authorize the implementation of transit-rich housing project bonuses for new urban developments, so families can afford to live within the communities in which they work. SB 50 encourages the development of mid-rise, multi-family unit, housing construction with close, walkable access to bus and rail transit. Residential developments may only obtain a “height” bonus if they meet local planning, zoning and design requirements. Local governments may approve higher-density housing, with reduced or eliminated parking requirements, provided the site is adjacent to transit or near jobs.

Vote No on SB 329 (Mitchell) – Mandatory Section 8. C.A.R. is opposing this bill which forces all residential rental property owners to participate in all government assistance and housing subsidy programs, such as the Section 8 housing program, by entering into a legally binding contract with a government agency. This bill forces all landlords into contracts whose provisions they may not be able to fulfill. C.A.R. says the bill does not fix the underlying problems with Section 8. Since housing authorities are understaffed, it can take as long as 60 days before all applications are submitted, inspections made, and contracts signed. During that time, the unit sits vacant at a substantial loss to the landlord.

All staunch proponents of housing, the legislators thanked the REALTORS® for their support and advocacy. They called on REALTORS® and others to stand up and speak louder about the need for housing “because the other side is so loud.”

Low said he has received sharp, mean-spirited backlash from those who oppose his pro-housing stance, some even demanding his recall, but he is not wavering. “Oftentimes we need to speak truth to the powerful. I feel very strongly about this. It’s important to make courageous decisions,” said Low.

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