SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE
Assemblyman Marc Levine is pushing for a bill that would exempt Marin County from housing density standards that apply to the rest of the Bay Area for more than 10 years.
For anyone who has contemplated California’s devastating housing shortage and wondered how the state got in this mess, here’s one short answer: Senate Bill 106.
Of course, this single unfortunate piece of legislation is not responsible for a crisis rooted in decades of bad state and local government decisions. But the bill, which would exempt Marin County from housing density standards that apply to the rest of the Bay Area for more than 10 years, does embody the sort of parochial policymaking that has been ruinous for the state’s greater good.
Pushed by Assemblyman Marc Levine, a Marin County Democrat who secured a similar development dispensation for the state’s wealthiest county in 2014, the bill would extend the exemption, currently scheduled to expire in 2023, to 2028. It would continue to classify the county, including its largest cities, San Rafael and Novato, as suburban, excusing it from the high-density housing developments prescribed for metropolitan areas.
The Legislature’s ruling Democrats introduced the exemption, as the Los Angeles Times reported, as part of a budget trailer bill addressing a wide variety of unrelated issues and escaping the level of public scrutiny applied to most legislation. Now before the state Senate, it was passed by the Assembly this week without a single Democratic or Bay Area lawmaker voting against it. David Chiu, D-San Francisco, who abstained, was the lone member from the housing-starved region who did not vote for the bill.
“Every part of our state must create housing to help solve the affordability crisis,” Chiu said in a statement, “but this policy makes that harder.”