Candidates for Governor Discuss Affordable Housing in California

SACRAMENTO -- A half-dozen candidates for governor appeared Thursday at the annual Housing California conference to offer up their solutions to the state's housing crisis.

The issue is coming to a head just prior to the June primaries because of the skyrocketing number of homeless on the streets of California cities. At the same time, skyrocketing rents and home prices are chasing businesses and residents out of the state.

Many of the Democratic candidates are supporting a $4 billion housing bond on the ballot, with some like State Treasurer John Chiang and former Los Angles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa proposing an additional bond that would add six to nine billion dollars more.

At the same time, Lt. Governor and former San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom have suggested that more drastic steps might have to be taken against cities that don’t follow their general plans to provide more affordable housing units. He and Villaraigosa say cities and community residents often restrict zoning of new homes to keep affordable housing from being built.

There is now a bill in the State Legislature that allows state rules to override local zoning ordinances in certain circumstances in order to build more housing units.

The two Republican candidates say the key is to reduce red tape and environmental regulations to avoid lawsuits that delay building projects rather than rely on government subsidies.

Organizers of the event say they are tired of the elected officials not addressing a crisis that has been building for years and that an election year is a good time to nail down their views on how to solve the crisis.