Can Sen. Jim Beall’s SB 795 Fix California’s Housing Crisis?

Almost exactly a year ago, the California legislature passed SB 5, a hotly debated affordable housing bill co-authored by state Sen. Jim Beall (D-San Jose).

“We fundamentally had two concepts for the bill,” Beall explains. “That the state needed to be engaged in the housing issue, and that the state needed to be engaged on an on-going basis, not just occasionally, or intermittently.”

Had it been enacted, the bill would have allocated $2 billion annually over five years for affordable housing projects, favoring transit-oriented developments statewide.

Gov. Gavin Newsom ultimately vetoed SB 5, citing budget constraints. Of particular concern was the source of SB 5’s funding: property taxes that were originally allocated to the state’s schools, and then “backfilled” with dollars from the state’s general fund.

Beall took those criticisms to heart and has since revived his affordable housing legislation as SB 795, which was tweaked to address the governor’s fiscal concerns. Instead of drawing from property taxes, the new bill would pull straight from the state’s general fund, thereby alleviating concerns that schools would lose money.

For Beall, the issue of housing is a visceral one, having personally experienced homelessness as a teenager when his family’s house burned down. In his view, he says, past housing bills haven’t solved the issue because none of them have addressed it as an ever-evolving need. “The state has never developed on-going funding for affordable housing,” Beall asserts. “The reason why you need an on-going program is it takes time to build affordable housing. If you only put in money for the next year it doesn’t help that kind of project, because there’s so much lead time in building housing.”

In addition to creating an ongoing fund to address the housing shortage, SB 795 would allocate $195 million a year towards tackling the effects of climate change, with roughly half of the money ($100 million) funding the Climate, Sea Level, and Natural Disaster Program, and the other half going to community development job creation.

“This is the time to change things, not to just go into a bunker mentality,” Beall says emphatically. “If we want to solve this issue, then housing should become part of the regular, on-going program of the state.”

SB 795 comes up for a vote on May 26.

12 Comments

  1. If you can’t afford to live here then move. It should be clear that stuffing people in sardine cans called high density housing isn’t a good idea.

    • Maybe the law could be amended to require that all affordable housing owners be supplied with a lifetime supply of cloth face masks. Then do a real, controlled study to ascertain the lack of effectiveness of cloth face masks in controlling COVID.

    • And another problem is all tax moneys go into or come from the “General Fund” where they fall into a great crevasse
      of graft and corruption and fall into basket of requests demanding more money!

  2. What a Stupid Bill and a Stupid idea. Plus he hides $195 MILLION for Climate Change in an Affordable Housing Bill. What a Chicken. Vote out corrupt Beall and corrupt Zoe has to Go as well.

  3. California’s woefully ineffective public education system gets 58% of its funding from the state general fund, which is basically income tax and sales tax; 33% from local taxes, mostly property tax; and the rest from the federal government. Switching the funding source for this new scheme of Beall’s is just fiscal sleight of hand. Government should not be in the business of using taxpayer dollars to fund home construction. Remember, government funds nothing; taxpayers do.

  4. Low density areas have had very little incidence of the virus. Great idea, progressives, packing people into high density housing. How’s that been working out? Huh?
    The only crisis that needs to be solved is our progressive leaderships’ compulsion to label everything a “crisis”, then react in a illogical panic, all with the incredibly egotistical idea that government, spending billions of taxpayer dollars will provide the “solution” to th “crisis”.

    • At least in the Bay Area not many. I believe around a third of house purchases are ALL CASH. All cash offers are pretty common and even today with multiple bidders on each house then the buyer isn’t likely going to be waiting for someone to go out and get a mortgage.

  5. If all we really needed was another law to fix CA’s housing shortage….what took so long? Jim Beall is clueless.

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