Category Archive: Regional and Local Updates

  1. Around the State

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    San Diego

    San Diego EDC Launches Inclusive Economic Growth Initiative

    In February, the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation (EDC) launched an  inclusive growth initiative to address growing concerns about the risks to San Diego’s economic development as employees and companies choose more affordable regions due to rising unaffordability and demographic shifts. The initiative aims to bring together stakeholders from government, education, business, and philanthropy to conduct research, discuss key issues, and make recommendations to local leaders. Jennifer LeSar, CEO of LeSar Development Consultants, will serve on the initiative’s steering committee in the role of a local employer and housing markets expert.

    Inclusive Economic Growth Luncheon Hosted by the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation

    The EDC recently published a study, Future of Growth in San Diego: The Economic Case for Inclusion, outlining three specific challenges the initiative will address: the minority attainment gap, the housing affordability crisis, and the difficulty small businesses face attracting talent and remaining competitive. The EDC and the Steering Committee will meet regularly over the next year to develop its recommendations, and will provide research and progress updates on the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation website.

    Los Angeles

    Image of the Los Angeles County Affordable Housing Action PlanLos Angeles County Board of Supervisors Approves Housing Policy Recommendations

    LDC and its affiliate, Estolano LeSar Advisors, created an Affordable Housing Action Plan (AHAP) for the County of Los Angeles in late 2017.  At its February 20th meeting, the County of Los Angeles Board of Supervisors approved four of the housing policies recommended in the AHAP:  Affordable Housing Preservation; Inclusionary Housing; Homeless Housing; and, Streamlining for certain Multifamily Developments. The Affordable Housing Preservation policy would include measures to prevent the conversion of affordable housing to market rate housing, and generate funding to provide for the rehabilitation of low-income housing. Inclusionary Housing would require developers to either build affordable housing as part of their project, or pay an in-lieu fee. And, the Streamlining policy would allow for multifamily developments to be allowed by-right in certain zones.

    Bay Area

    Berkeley Builder First to Employ New Streamlining Law

    In early March, a subsidiary of Blake Griggs filed an application with the City of Berkeley for streamlined approval of a 260-unit multifamily development, becoming the first developer to invoke Senate Bill 35. The law, which went into effect January 1, 2018, allows for streamlined approval of projects in cities that have not met their regional housing needs. The City is subject to SB 35 because it has permitted less than 4% of its low-income housing as required by the Regional Housing Needs Allocation, according to the California Department of Housing and Community Development. SB 35 aims to boost the production of affordable housing statewide by streamlining the approval process in jurisdictions that have not produced adequate housing to meet population growth projections. The law has also sparked controversy about the decline of local control over housing.

  2. Around the State

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    Bay Area

    Factory OS Tour

    On January 30, LDC staff toured Factory OS, a new company specializing in the off-site construction of pre-fab modular homes. Co-owned by well-known developer Rick Holliday of Holliday Development and Larry Pace of Cannon Contractors, the company aims to speed up the production and reduce the costs of building both market rate and affordable multifamily housing. A recent San Francisco Chronicle article reported that Factory OS is already slated to produce more than 1,700 total units for five projects in the cities of Oakland, Emeryville, Mountain View, and Union City. The Mountain View project developed for Google owner Alphabet Inc. will produce an estimated 300 modular apartment units for Google employees. See more photos from the Factory OS tour.

    The Terner Center for Housing Innovation at UC Berkeley recently launched a research project to understand how the cost of building affects development and what the public and private sector can do to reduce these costs to boost housing supply. So far, the series has examined the drivers of San Francisco’s housing costs, which include specific challenges related to lengthy and complex permitting and development processes, building codes and design requirements, workforce and procurement rules, and environmental regulations.

    Los Angeles

    Mariachi Plaza station, serving the Metro Gold Line in Los Angeles

    In late January, the Metro Board of Directors approved executing Exclusive Negotiation Agreements for the joint development of two properties. The first is with the East LA Community Corporation (ELACC) for a 60-unit affordable housing complex for households earning 30 to 50 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI) at the Mariachi Plaza Station site. The development will also include retail and dining space, a Mariachi Cultural Center, bicycle spaces, and a park and community garden. ELACC hopes the units will house some of the mariachis who are struggling to live in the area amid higher housing costs. The second project will also provide 60 units for households earning 30 to 50 percent AMI, as well as 25,000 square feet of retail/grocery space, a community park, and parking space. The project will be developed by Abode Communities at Cesar E. Chavez Avenue and Fickett Street in Boyle Heights, according to the StreetsBlog.

    The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority has approved the “Twenty-Eight by ’28” Plan, which aims to promote and accelerate the development of key road, transit, and bicycle projects ahead of the 2028 Summer Olympics and Paralympics. Projects include new bus rapid transit corridors, a river bike path and mobility hub in the San Fernando Valley, and the acceleration of the South Bay Light Rail Extension and the Gold Line Eastside Extension to Whittier or South El Monte.

    The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) reported on January 25 that they anticipate a $13.2 million shortfall in annual funding for families experiencing homelessness, according to a January 26th report from Southern California Public Radio. Clients have been entering the system at five times the rate of the previous year, and LAHSA may need to consider whether to reallocate funding from other programs to address the increased need.

    San Diego

    Georgette Gomez
    District 9 Councilmember
    City of San Diego

    On January 18, the Metropolitan Transit System unanimously elected San Diego City Councilwoman Georgette Gomez to serve as its new chair. Gomez, a leading environmental justice advocate prior to her election to City Council, seeks to expand ridership by improving services and facilities and by providing free or discounted passes to youth. She will oversee the implementation of the Mid-City Centerline project, efforts to increase bus frequency, and a pilot program to test Zero Emission Buses.

    San Diegans for Managed Growth announced January 22 that they are sponsoring a “Save Our San Diego Countryside” ballot initiative that would require county voters to approve large housing developments in unincorporated areas. The initiative’s backers argue that existing zoning guidelines provide adequate land for development, while developers and other argue that current laws allow for general plan amendments to adapt to the changing needs of the population and local communities. Opponents also expressed concerns that the process could impede efforts to expand the supply of housing in the region.

  3. Alameda County Housing Bond Funding Now Available

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    In October 2017, the Alameda County Board of Supervisors voted to approve the first four permanent financing resolutions using funds from Measure A1, a November 2016 bond measure to create and preserve affordable housing. In Oakland, the Fruitvale BART project will receive $6.35 million to build 94 units and the EMBARK homeless housing project will receive $2.7 million to build 70 units. The East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation and the Unity Council will develop the Fruitvale project with the EMBARK units under development with Resources for Community Development. In Pleasanton, the Kottinger Gardens II project will receive $4.6 million for Mid Pen Housing to develop 54 units in Pleasanton. In addition, the Grayson Street project in Berkeley will receive $691,394 for Satellite Affordable Housing Associates to develop 24 affordable units.

    As in other parts of the state, affordable housing is badly needed in Alameda County.  HUD’s 2017 annual assessment found that 5,629 people are homeless, including 68.6 percent who are unsheltered, the fourth highest unsheltered rate in the nation.

    In November 2016, nearly three-quarters of Alameda County voters cast their ballots in favor of Measure A1, which will raise $580 million to provide affordable local housing and prevent displacement for low- and moderate-income households, veterans, seniors, and people with disabilities. Funds will also be allocated to permanent supportive housing, and to assist low- and middle-income households in purchasing homes.

    Liz Tracey is an expert on affordable housing and community development finance using tools such as the Low Income Housing Tax Credit and New Markets Tax Credits. For information about affordable housing and community development financing resources, contact Liz Tracey, Senior Principal, LDC at



  4. How Will the 2017 Housing Package Affect 2018?

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    Colorado Court Apartments, affordable housing in Santa Monica, CAOf the 130 housing-related bills introduced last year, 15 were approved and signed into law by Gov. Brown.  As we look forward to 2018, we’ve examined how some of these bills might be catalysts for change in 2018.  In particular, we examined SB35, Senator Wiener’s streamlining bill; SB40, Senator Roth’s Workforce Housing Opportunity Zone (WHOZ) bill; and, AB1397, Assemblymember Low’s bill addressing housing element inventory.

    SB35 (Wiener) is a measure that streamlines certain multifamily housing project approvals, at the request of the developer, in jurisdictions that have not met their Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) requirements or have not submitted housing elements for two consecutive years.

    Qualifying developments must meet the following requirements: (1) be in an urbanized area (population of 50,000 or more) or an urban cluster (population 2,500 – 50,000); (2) have at least 75 percent of its perimeter adjoining parcels that are already developed as urban uses; and, (3) be zoned residential or mixed-use, with at least 2/3 of the square footage dedicated for residential use. Several exclusions, including excluded land use designations, apply.

    SB 540 (Roth) establishes “Workforce Housing Opportunity Zones” (WHOZs).  Jurisdictions that opt in will encourage the development of affordable housing near jobs and transit by creating zones where planning, environmental review, and public input is completed through Specific Plans.  Developments within Specific Plan areas will benefit in that they will require neither CEQA review nor discretionary review. In 2018, we’ll see jurisdictions begin to develop specific plans in order to take advantage of this program and incentivize the development of affordable housing.

    AB 1397 (Low) makes changes to how governments comprise their housing element site inventories.  For instance, parcels must have sufficient water, sewer, and utilities in order to be counted.  Sites that are now vacant will now need to overcome certain restrictions in order to be included.  And, sites must be “available” for residential development, or show that they have “realistic and demonstrated” potential to be developed.

    Artemis Spyridonidis covers housing policy issues, including structural solutions to the housing affordability crisis, consolidated plans, housing elements, accessory dwelling unit policy implementation, and regional issues across the state of California.

    To learn more about LDC’s policy services, contact Artemis Spyridonidis, Senior Associate, at

  5. City of Los Angeles Passes Motel Conversion, Permanent Supportive Housing Ordinances

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    In its last session of 2017, the Los Angeles City Planning Commission passed two ordinances to facilitate the development of transitional and permanent supportive housing. The Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) Ordinance would streamline the production of permanent supportive housing by establishing standard criteria and removing regulatory barriers. To qualify as a permanent supportive housing project, all units would be required to be affordable with half or more of those units designated for persons who are homeless. All projects would be linked to onsite or offsite supportive services, require a 55-year affordability covenant, and ensure one-to-one replacement of any existing affordable units.

    If passed by the Los Angeles City Council, the PSH Ordinance would allow new developments to be built at higher density, because units are typically designed for individuals, and would exempt them from mandatory parking minimums. Project would still be required to meet the height and floor area limitations that apply under the existing density bonus program to ensure that the scale of buildings would be similar to a typical affordable housing project.

    The second, the Interim Motel Conversion Ordinance, would streamline the approval process for converting existing motels and hotels to supportive and transitional housing for individuals and families experiencing homelessness. This would allow for transitional housing to be developed on a faster timeline than would be required to construct new units.

    Both ordinances will be forwarded to relevant City Council Committees for consideration and to the City Attorney for review before they can come to the City Council for a vote.


    Winnie Fong, Senior Associate, provides research, analysis, writing, and project management leadership in support of various consulting projects, especially ELP’s role as Executive Director for the Westside Cities Council 

    of  Governments. For more information, contact Winnie Fong, Senior Associate, at

  6. Celebrating the 1/3 Point Progress with CASA – The Committee to House the Bay Area

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    Sen. Scott Wiener Speaking to CASA

    CASA is a year-and-a-half long convening of diverse, multi-disciplinary Bay Area leaders to create a regional housing implementation plan that commenced in June 2017 and will wrap up in October 2018.  Led by representatives from local and regional government, business, the social equity community, labor, private and affordable housing development, philanthropy, and finance, CASA is one-third of the way toward developing the plan, which aims to dramatically change the housing production paradigm and enable the Bay Area to meet its housing needs and protect its most vulnerable residents.

    As the CASA facilitator, I have had the opportunity to work closely with the Co-Chairs and Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) leadership to guide the process for both its Steering Committee and Technical Committee. By December, the group had held five Technical Committee meetings and one Steering Committee meeting, and had completed a significant portion of its preliminary work. You can download the meeting agendas to learn more about the group’s work, but here’s a quick recap of where we have been and a forecast on where we are going:

    • June: 50 members of the Steering and Technical Committees shared the impacts of the housing crisis, key obstacles faced by their organizations and constituents, and actions they were taking in response to the lack of affordability and availability of housing.
    • July: Key themes from the June meeting and a literature review on the Bay Area crisis and relevant statewide, national, and international thought leadership were shared.  A work plan strategy map was presented.
    • September: The three Co-Chairs presented preliminary ideas corresponding to our Actions Strategy focusing on housing production, the preservation of affordable housing stock, and the protection of vulnerable residents and communities. We also debuted our governance frameworks and action ideas templates, and received an overview of MTC’s funding sources (new vocabulary for housing and social equity folks!). Using our Gradients of Agreement decision-making system, we scored the protection and production action ideas.
    • October: We scored the last of the three prongs of our work – the preservation ideas, and we reviewed the scoring from the September meeting to determine where we had general agreement and/or lack of consensus.  We also had detailed presentations on distinguishing between gentrification and displacement, understanding the underlying pressures and strategies to strengthen the resilience of communities, and understanding the financial realities of building housing.
    • December: We held our first workshop to begin building the key elements of our regional housing framework, and to gather feedback on our community engagement strategy.  Detailed presentations identified the amount of publicly owned land that could be available for transit-proximate housing development, and we received an update on MTC’s work on its housing actions from its Plan Bay Area 2040.

    2018 will bring continued focus on articulating our framework to ensure that the plan is equitable, inclusive, and impactful, and that it puts the Bay Area on a trajectory to meet the needs of its current and future residents. Please follow our progress as we build out and vet our action ideas through our Technical and Steering Committees, community meetings, and CASA members’ networks. If you are interested in adapting and building upon this process for your region or local community, please reach out to Jennifer at

    With more than 30 years of experience in the real estate development and investment banking industries, Jennifer LeSar brings a diverse background to her work in community development and urban revitalization. Her technical expertise spans from policy and program development to the origination and underwriting of complex investments in equity funds, multi-family portfolios, and historic and low-income tax credit properties utilizing federal and state financing programs.

    For more information about innovative approaches to address our housing crisis, contact Jennifer LeSar, President and CEO, at

  7. State Housing Package Passed by Legislature, Gov. Brown

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    Gov. Brown gave affordable housing advocates statewide a reason to celebrate when he signed a package of housing bills into law into September 2017. SB2, The Building Homes and Jobs Act, creates a dedicated and permanent source of funding that will provide approximately $250 million annually for affordable housing development by imposing a $75 fee on specific real estate transactions.  In 2018, 50 percent of the funds collected will be made available for governments seeking to update their planning and zoning documents.   The other 50 percent will be dedicated to homelessness services.  California’s Department of Housing and Community Development expects to release a Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) to release these funds in 2018. Local governments can begin to plan now by identifying any planning and/or zoning documents that may need updating before the NOFA is released. For 2019 and subsequent years, the funding will support affordable housing development.

    SB 3, the Veterans and Affordable Housing Bond Act of 2018, was authorized to be placed on the November 2018 ballot.  If passed, it will provide $4 billion for veterans housing and affordable housing throughout the state.  Eligible uses of these funds will include Multifamily Housing, Transit-Oriented Rental Housing, the Infill Incentive Grant Program, the Local Housing Trust Fund Matching Grant Program, the CalHOME Program, and the CalVet Home Loan Program.

    Finally, AB 1505, the “Palmer Fix” bill, makes it legal for jurisdictions to apply Inclusionary Zoning ordinances to not only for-sale developments, but also rental projects. We will continue to track the implementation of these bills and welcome the opportunity to help you align your efforts with forthcoming state regulations and funding opportunities

    Artemis Spyridonidis covers housing policy issues, including structural solutions to the housing affordability crisis, consolidated plans, housing elements, accessory dwelling unit policy implementation, and regional issues across the state of California.

    To learn more about LDC’s housing policy services, contact Artemis Spyridonidis, Senior Associate, at

  8. San Diego County’s $25 Million Innovative Housing Trust Fund

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    On December 7th, the County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency, Housing and Community Development Services released a Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) announcing $25 million available for gap financing to qualified developers to facilitate the construction, acquisition, rehabilitation, and loan repayment of affordable multi-family rental housing within San Diego County. The County estimates that the funds will support the development of 600 to 1,000 units over the next five years, providing a much-needed boost to the affordable housing market.

    Funded through the County’s Innovative Housing Trust Fund (IHTF) established by the San Diego County Board of Supervisors in September 2017, the NOFA will prioritize funding for projects that align with the following goals:

    • Create new affordable housing units
    • Serve a special needs group such as seniors; persons with physical or chronic health conditions or developmental disabilities; persons with severe mental illness or substance use issues; veterans and military personnel; at-risk or transition-age youth; survivors of domestic violence; families in need; or persons experiencing or at-risk of homelessness
    • Leverage other sources of funding such as private equity loans, Low Income Housing Tax Credits, Tax-Exempt Multi-family Housing Revenue Bonds, HUD Senior Preservation Rental Assistance Contracts, or the State of California’s Multi-family Housing Program, Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities Program, or Veteran Housing and Homeless Prevention Program.
    • Include a self-sufficiency component
    • Incorporate green building and resource-efficient technologies
    • House people enrolled in Whole Person Wellness, which provides comprehensive services and supports for individuals with complex physical and/or behavioral health needs who are homeless or are experiencing housing instability.

    Subject to availability, CDBG, HOME, and HOPWA funds may also be allocated through the NOFA.  Applications are due March 1, 2018.

    Artemis Spyridonidis covers housing policy issues, including structural solutions to the housing affordability crisis, consolidated plans, housing elements, accessory dwelling unit policy implementation, and regional issues across the state of California.

    To learn more about LDC’s policy services, contact Artemis Spyridonidis, Senior Associate, at

  9. $100 Million Added to Affordable Housing Sustainable Communities NOFA

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    On September 27th, the Strategic Growth Council announced a $100 million increase to the Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA), which will now be included in the Third Round of the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities (AHSC) program. The additional funds come from the August Cap-and-Trade auction proceeds, and increase the amount of available funding to approximately $255 million. The decision to release the funds came in response to a request from the California Housing Partnership, which was echoed by both NPH and SCANPH.

    The funds will be released on October 2, 2017, and applications will be due January 16, 2018. AHSC program staff will be hosting six application workshops throughout the state on the following dates:

    – Monday, October 2, 2017 – Sacramento
    – Wednesday, October 4, 2017 – Fresno
    – Thursday, October 5, 2017 – San Francisco
    – Tuesday, October 10, 2017 – Los Angeles
    – Wednesday, October 11, 2017 – Riverside
    – Thursday, October 12, 2017 – San Diego

    The Draft Funding Guidelines released on August 4th, 2017, are currently being updated to reflect feedback from stakeholders and legislative updates related to AB 1550, which increases the percentage of funding for projects that benefit disadvantaged communities with an additional focus on low-income communities and households. Final Guidelines will be adopted after the release of the NOFA. Additional requirements will be built into the program guidelines for future funding cycles.

    For more information, please refer to the workshop information or the memo published by AHSC. LDC affiliate Estolano LeSar Perez, in partnership with Enterprise Community Partners, will be providing technical assistance to support qualifying AHSC applicants.

    Liz Tracey-4x5For information about affordable housing and community development financing resources, contact Liz Tracey, Senior Principal, LDC at:

    Liz Tracey is an expert on affordable housing and community development finance using tools such as the Low Income Housing Tax Credit and New Markets Tax Credits.

  10. Lawmakers Rally Votes to Pass Housing Package

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    California State Capitol SacramentoIn the waning hours of the 2017 legislative session, state lawmakers rallied the votes necessary to reach agreement on a package of housing bills designed to help alleviate the state’s historic housing crisis. The Legislature’s vote to approve the package will provide up to $4.1 billion in bond funding, plus another $250 million annually from a real estate transaction fee, altogether the largest amount of state financing for affordable housing in California history. The package is projected to generate an estimated 70,000 housing units by 2022.

    The vote followed amendments to Senate Bills 2 and 3, which were the subject of intense negotiation as leaders statewide sought to stimulate development and respond to growing public pressure to improve housing affordability. Both SB2 and SB3 required a two-thirds approval by the Assembly to pass.

    Building Homes and Jobs Act

    The Building Homes and Jobs Act (SB 2), authored by Sen. Atkins (D-San Diego), will create a permanent revenue source to fund affordable housing by charging $75 to $225 in document fees on real estate transactions, such as mortgage refinancing. Home and commercial property sales are exempt from the fee. SB 2 is expected to generate approximately $5 billion over the next five years when matched with federal, local, and private funds.

    SB 2 was amended August 29th to provide greater local control over the funds. In 2018, half the funds will be made available to local governments to support community planning and half to the Department of Housing and Community Development to fund programs for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness. Beginning in 2019, local governments will receive 70% of the funds, with the remaining 30% appropriated to the California Housing Finance Agency to create mixed-income multifamily residential housing for lower to moderate income households.

    “There is no single silver bullet that will solve the crisis; however, SB 2 is a step in the right direction,” said Atkins following the bill’s passage. “It will generate new, ongoing funding to create permanent supportive housing for people who are experiencing chronic homelessness, providing them with services they need to address their physical and mental health issues and relieving pressure on our courts, jails, and emergency rooms.”

    Veterans and Affordable Housing Bond Act of 2018

    SB 3, the Veterans and Affordable Housing Bond Act of 2018 (Beall, D-San Jose), authorizes a November 2018 ballot measure seeking voter approval for $4 billion in bond funding for rental housing and existing housing programs. Introduced as a $3 billion bond proposal for the construction of new low-income housing, an August 28th amendment increased the bond by $1 billion to provide homeownership subsidies to veterans by extending the Cal-Vet Farm and Home Loan Program.

    Streamlining Development

    The Legislature also passed several bills related to eliminating local barriers to housing production. SB 35 (Wiener, D-San Francisco) will streamline permitting by eliminating multiple planning reviews “by right” for housing projects that meet certain zoning and affordability standards. Under the bill, projects featuring more than 10 units that qualify for expedited approval would pay union-level or prevailing wages to construction workers, and developers of some larger projects would “have to agree to union-standard work rules or apprenticeship programs.”

    Sen. Friedman (D-Glendale) spoke in favor of the bill, saying that it struck the right balance between providing the housing we need and protecting the environment. “The bill targets urban infill areas where residents are less likely to depend on cars, and more likely to rely on public transportation,” she added.

    SB 540 (Roth, D-Riverside) will allow local governments to form priority Workforce Housing Opportunity Zones and charge fees for developers seeking approvals within the zone. Local governments that establish the zones will be required to approve proposed developments that meet the plan’s criteria within 60 days. In addition to spurring construction, SB 540 is expected to increase jobs and economic opportunity. The bill was supported by both realtors and the building trades. 

    The Legislature also passed SB 166, which will eliminate a loophole in the current housing element law and prohibit communities from permitting units at a capacity lower than what is needed to meet their share of the Regional Housing Needs Assessment for lower and moderate-income households.

    In addition, SB 167 strengthens the Housing Accountability Act, also known as the “Anti-NIMBY Act,” by requiring local agencies to base any decisions to prohibit the development of very low- to moderate-income projects or emergency shelters “on a preponderance of the evidence” and allows the courts to impose fees for non-compliance.

    “If cities are not doing what they should be doing, they could be found in violation of the Act,” said David Chiu (D-San Francisco).

    AB 1505 (Bloom, D-Santa Monica), which would restore the ability of local governments to adopt ordinances requiring that inclusionary housing policies be applied as a condition of permitting for rental housing, will be heard in the Senate today.

    The Governor, who has until October 15th to sign the bills, tweeted his support for the package.

    LDC will continue to follow the news from today’s legislative session, and will provide you with updates as Gov. Brown takes action on these bills.