Where We Live and How We Get There; Legislation Linking Transportation and Housing Taking Shape
Throughout 2018, the escalating cost of housing, widespread displacement, and the still-rising number of Californians experiencing homelessness across our state couldn’t have made the need for action to address California’s housing crisis more clear, and in 2019, CalBike and our partner advocates are hearing an increasing flurry of conversation around issues like affordability, displacement, development, and sprawl. Finally, with a bold new focus on housing policy set by incoming Governor Newsom, the conversation has transformed into real proposals with actionable steps for policy change. CalBike is involved because housing that is affordable and inclusive and not sprawled out over vast distances is essential to creating communities where bicycling enables more people to live healthy and joyful lives.
Along with activist partners and allies in the state legislature from across California, CalBike knows that housing and transportation policy is so thoroughly complected that measures to address the housing crisis must be linked to transportation policy, advance the role of active transportation in sustainable community development, and protect existing residents and communities from the trauma of displacement as neighborhoods advance.
The most consequential bill connecting these issues is AB 1568 (McCarty), which essentially links transportation funding to local housing goals using a ‘stick’ approach; threatening localities of their share of transportation dollars if they don’t meet affordable housing production goals. Governor Newsom made sharp assertions on this in his first state budget that have since been backed up by specifics. It borrows heavily from Asm. McCarty’s bill by explaining how transportation funding could be withheld from cities that do not build enough housing.
This is a bold move. Top transportation committee chairs, Sen. Jim Beall (D-San Jose) and Asm. Jim Frazier (D-Oakley), have made it clear that threatening SB 1 funds would unacceptably sully the popular will of the voters who nixed proposition 6‘s threat to the projects Senate Bill 1 is already facilitating across the state.
Among the legislative efforts this year tying transportation and housing funding and policy together, none is garnering more attention than SB 50, Senator Scott Wiener’s (D-San Francisco) second attempt at a proposal granting exceptions to local density maximums and parking minimums to residential projects in transit-oriented neighborhoods; while we think reforming the outdated practice of parking minimums is long-overdue, we’re analyzing the implications of this bill and others with the advocates and organizations we work alongside, and we’ll be keeping a close eye on this and all of the critical legislation and news shaping transportation, land use, and climate policy across the state.
This slate of bills sets the ground for a forthcoming battle between the legislature and the governor on the ways in which housing and transportation are connected and the paths forward we should take as a state; a debate that we hope will result in compromise and decisive action.
CalBike, along with our partners, will continue to monitor and navigate upcoming developments and report to you on our state’s progress in linking housing to transportation in policy, from the role of active transportation in sustainable community development, to the connections between transportation, environmental, and climate justice, and of course the particularly intractable challenges of gentrification and displacement.
We look forward to leading on this in the coming months and hope our members and stakeholders will be there alongside us. Stay tuned!