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During last week’s Legislative Day, California Association of REALTORS® Senior VP for Governmental Affairs and Chief Lobbyist Sanjay Wagle said REALTORS® cut across party lines and their power lies in member involvement.

“The bottom line is your participation is vital,” Wagle told REALTORS®. “Our power is in your involvement, your response to Red Alerts, your decision-making, your contributions.”

Wagle indicated in the 1960s, the median price was three times the average income; today, it is seven times the average income. The main reason is housing is not being built at the rate needed.

“It is vital that we make homeownership not some sort of a rich person’s privilege or a software engineer’s privilege, but once again a normal part of California middle class life. The solution as we all know is supply,” said Wagle.

Wagle briefed members on two hot issues to take to their legislators: OPPOSE ACA 7, the anti-housing constitutional amendment, which undoes the Costa Hawkins Rental Housing Act and allows for radical rent control and guts laws that create housing; and SUPPORT SB 6, which makes it easier and quicker to convert unused commercial property to residential housing.

SILVAR members did just that when they met virtually with Assembly members Marc Berman (CA Assembly District 24) and Evan Low (CA Assembly District 28), and Senators Dave Cortese (CA Senate District 15) and Josh Becker (CA Senate District 13). The legislators said they understand the critical need for housing but indicated legislators in other parts of the state do not see it the same way.

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The first-ever virtual California Association of REALTORS® Legislative Day kicked off on April 27 with welcome remarks from 2021 President Dave Walsh, 2021 President-elect Otto Catrina and other C.A.R. officials who underlined the urgency of increasing the state’s housing supply and addressing barriers to homeownership.

“Closing the homeownership gap is essential to closing the generational wealth gap in our country,” said Walsh.

California Governor Gavin Newsom addressed REALTORS® and lamented that the twin crises of housing affordability and homelessness have dominated state’s political conversations for decades, even before the pandemic. While the state has made great strides with Projects Roomkey and Homekey, Newsom said there is still a lot more to do.

“At the end of the day, the fundamental truth is we need to simply build more housing at all income levels,” said Newsom.

Newsom indicated this can only be done by a combination of subsidies, political will, and a dose of accountability across the spectrum. “I consider the REALTORS® key partners in this work.”

The Governor thanked REALTORS® for their partnership and said he looked forward to pushing the pandemic behind so the state could reset its key priorities to solve the housing and homeless crises.

There were also greetings from California’s Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins (CA Senate District 39), Assemblywoman Blanca E. Rubio (CA Assembly District 48) and California State Senate minority leader Scott Wilk (CA Senate District 21), who pledged their commitment to housing for all.

“The pandemic has now intensified the need for housing affordability, access and opportunity,” said Atkins.

Rubio related her personal story as an immigrant and said it has given her a genuine understanding of the daily struggles and barriers immigrants and working families face. She pledged support for immigrant families, small businesses and their workers.

Wilk underlined the need to make California a safe and affordable place to call home for generations to come. He said he worries his own children cannot afford to live in California. “This is a very real problem that affects every single California family… REALTORS® can make a difference in meeting the housing challenge.”

Legislative Day gave members an opportunity to meet virtually with their legislators and discussed C.A.R. hot issues (see article in Government Affairs). Later C.A.R. CEO Joel Singer interviewed political columnist Dan Walters. Walters analyzed Governor Newsom’s handling of the pandemic and shared his own views on state politics and the future of California’s housing situation and economy.

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