Assemblymember Levine calls for building affordable housing as easily as building sports stadiums

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SACRAMENTO, CA – Assemblymember Marc Levine (D- Marin County) today called for California to extend affordable housing projects located on local school district surplus properties the same expedited environmental review offered to professional sports arenas and stadiums across the state.

Levine recently introduced AB 1648, which would streamline the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) by requiring approvals of affordable housing projects on school district owned properties within 270 days of the filing of the certified record of proceedings with a court. School districts would be authorized to provide housing preference for teachers and classified employees of the district they serve.

Similar legislative efforts to streamline the environmental review process for professional sports arenas have been approved over the past several years including SB 292 (Padilla), Chapter 353 (2011), which provided an expedited environmental review for the proposed NFL Farmers Field in Los Angeles; SB 743 (Steinberg), Chapter 386 (2013), which provided an expedited environmental review for the NBA Golden 1 Center in Sacramento; AB 734 (Bonta), Chapter 959 (2018) expedited (270 day), which provided an expedited environmental review for a proposed MLB baseball park and mixed-use development in the City of Oakland and AB 987 (Kamlager-Dove), Chapter 961 (2018), which provided an expedited environmental review for a proposed NBA basketball arena and related development in the City of Inglewood.

California’s housing affordability crisis has made it increasingly difficult for families to live in the communities where they want their children to attend public schools. It has become even more difficult for teachers and classified staff to live in the communities of the schools they serve. According to the Learning Policy Institute, 29% of school districts experiencing teacher shortages cite high costs of living as a major reason. Just 1% of teachers in San Francisco and 2% of teachers in San Jose can afford to buy a home in the area, according to a recent Trulia analysis.

AB 1648 would address a number of factors contributing to California’s housing crisis by streamlining the environmental review process for affordable housing on school district-owned surplus properties. Streamlining this review will increase the production of workforce affordable housing across the state and activate underutilized school district owned properties that are often located near school campuses.

“Providing affordable housing options to our educators and school staff will enable our schools to attract and retain a quality workforce,” said Mary Jane Burke, Marin County Superintendent of Schools. “Our students deserve the very best educational opportunities and retaining qualified staff is paramount to making this happen.”

AB 1648 could create an additional sustainable revenue stream for local school districts to support students in the classroom. Despite historic increased state spending on K-12 education, school districts across the state are struggling to balance their budgets.

nia can expedite environmental reviews for the construction of professional sports arenas, then we should be able to expedite environmental reviews for the construction of affordable housing for teachers,” said Assemblymember Marc Levine. “California’s housing crisis requires out of the box thinking on how we can increase quality, affordable housing immediately.”

AB 1648 will be considered by the California State Assembly in the Spring of 2019.

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