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California Lawmakers Consider Next Year's Housing Priorities

Robert Carr / Flickr

Robert Carr / Flickr

Days after Gov. Jerry Brown signed a package of bills to address California's high housing costs, lawmakers are already discussing more changes to bring down home prices—particularly for the middle-class.

Democratic lawmakers called those bills a start, especially to help low-income residents. 

An Assembly committee brought together academics, housing developers and advocates this week to discuss further changes the Legislature could consider next year.

UC Berkeley urban policy professor Carol Galante called the state’s new laws a starting point, but one that doesn’t address a key issue.

Galante testified that fees and tangential requirements raise the cost of construction for developers. For example, meeting local parking mandates when building apartments

"Reducing the cost of production in my view needs to be one of the next major tasks of the Legislature," Galante said. 

Galante and developers testified that buying land, paying fees and hiring labor drive up planning and construction costs. That makes building units targeted to the middle-class an unattractive business.

"If you’re building a subterranean garage, costs $50,-60,000 a unit, $50-60,000 in fees, and guess what? We haven’t built a house yet, we haven’t built an apartment, and we haven’t paid for land," Galante said.

Brown signed 15 bills on Friday. Some create new affordable housing funds, while others attempt to hasten the approval process.

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