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Granny flats and renters’ tax credits: The California housing bills that will live to see another day

Source: The Mercury News

An array of bills aimed at easing California’s housing crisis, from banning fees on “granny flats” to pushing housing development on BART property, cleared a key hurdle last week, while others died quietly in fiscal committees.

One such fatality was a proposal to help teachers and other middle-income tenants live closer to their jobs , one of many bills aiming to shore up the supply of badly needed affordable housing for low- and middle-income families. California housing officials estimate that shortfall has ballooned to a staggering 3.5 million homes.

Also stopped in its tracks was a bipartisan bill by Assemblyman Rob Bonta, D-Alameda, and Marc Steinorth, R-Rancho Cucamonga, that would have helped aspiring homeowners save up for a down payment through a special savings plan with tax benefits, similar to a 529 college savings account.

A break for granny flats: It would be illegal for cities or counties to charge certain fees for backyard or garage units — or to require off-street parking — under Senate Bill 831, by Sen. Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont, a champion of the backyard “accessory dwelling” revolution. For too long, the senator says, some cities have limited the addition of these units with cumbersome requirements and high fees.

BART housing: Chiu and Assemblyman Tim Grayson, D-Concord, see the BART system’s expansive parking lots as fertile ground for housing construction, and their Assembly Bill 2923 aims to nudge the transit system and local governments into allowing it.


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