With the support of most leaders and businesses in Butte County, AB 430 was heard April 8th in the Assembly Natural Resources committee. Assemblymember Gallagher presented the need for housing for our workforce. The danger is losing former Ridge residents who are still living precariously in trailers and room-shares. These Camp Fire victims are part of our community fabric and a large segment of our workforce. Without housing options for them, we will lose these essential members of our social and economic foundation.
Many Butte County leaders and Camp Fire survivors spoke of the need to build more housing, faster.
One simple solution is to not require CEQA in select zoned residential development areas, already designated in our General Plans. These projects would bypass the delay, expense and potential frivilous lawsuits that are a part of CEQA. The projects still go through the normal planning processes with review and public hearings.
It was surprising, given the ugly situation Chico finds itself in, that the Mayor of Chico wrote a letter personally opposing AB430. The Mayor displayed unexplainable ignorance about the planning process and continues to misconstrue the meaning of 5,300 projects proposed, approved and under construction.
CBA supports AB 430 - read our letter here: CBA Support Letter AB 430
Watch the hearing here, beginning at 59:30
In a strange turn of events, the Mayor of Chico wrote a letter in opposition (on Chico Mayor letterhead), blindisiding the Assemblyman and the supporters. The three opponents to the bill read his letter aloud as their testimony.
The Mayor either forgot the planning process or has other reasons to pull Chico out of the bill's coverage. Exempting CEQA doesn't change local land use control. Projects still go through Planning department, Planning Commission, Review Board and City Council. AB 430 Stone Opposition Letter on Chico Letterhead
Back in January at the State of the City, the Mayor articulated the reason everyone supports AB 430. It wastes years of time and adds frivilous lawsuit costs. Odd he would forget.
To which Assemblyman Gallagher responded with this press release:
Gallagher to Chico: If You Don’t Want Housing Streamlined, We Can Remove You from the Bill
Housing Bill Enjoys Overwhelming Local Support
SACRAMENTO – Today, Assemblyman James Gallagher’s (R-Yuba City) legislation to expedite housing in Butte County was presented in the Assembly Natural Resources Committee. The intent of Assembly Bill 430 is to streamline the environmental review process for certain housing projects to cope with the severe housing shortage in the county in the aftermath of the deadly Camp Fire.
Due to pending negotiations with the Committee, no action was taken at today’s hearing.
“Part of the legislative process is working collaboratively with other lawmakers to draft bill language that most Committee members and stakeholders feel comfortable with,” said Gallagher. “I appreciate that my colleagues in Sacramento want to help alleviate our severe housing shortage in the aftermath of the Camp Fire – and I will be working with representatives from both parties to modify and bring back this proposal for a vote soon.”
The surprise of the hearing was a last minute opposition letter submitted by Chico Mayor Randall Stone to individual members of the committee. The Chico City Council has not taken a position on AB 430, but will be considering the bill at their city council meeting tomorrow. Gallagher’s office did not receive a copy of Stone’s letter in advance of today’s hearing. Two Chico residents attended the hearing and read aloud Stone’s comments.
“You would think given the severity of this situation the Mayor wouldn’t be playing games like this,” said Gallagher. “The first time my office reached out to him to discuss this housing solution, Stone took to Facebook to criticize it rather than responding to my office. Now today, we get blindsided with a last minute opposition letter that we hear about through a third party. My message to Mayor Stone and the City of Chico is simple: If you don’t want to be included in this solution to expedite housing, we’ll take you out of the bill. The ball is in your court.”
A broad coalition of individuals attended the hearing to express support for the measure, including representatives from Butte County, the City of Oroville, the City of Biggs, the Rural County Representatives of California, the California Chamber of Commerce, the California Building Industry Association, Sierra North Valley Association of Realtors, the Chico Chamber of Commerce, the Chico Builders Association, the Valley Contractors Exchange and the Chico based Sustainability Management Association. Many small business owners, property owners, and Camp Fire survivors were also in attendance to express their support, including Paradise Town Councilmember Melissa Schuster, and former Paradise Mayor Scott Lotter.
“This is an emergency situation, and our region’s economy is at serious risk” said Interim Oroville City Administrator Tom Lando who testified in support of the bill. “The ridge provided housing for many of the region’s employees due to its low cost. Housing prices have soared due to a lack of supply. It will take an innovative approach to solve this issue and I believe this bill is a critical piece of the recovery.”
Gallagher has been working with a group of stakeholders to develop amendments to the legislation, and the new version of the bill voted on in the Natural Resources Committee on April 22nd.
For more information on Assemblyman Gallagher, and to track legislation visit www.assembly.ca.gov/Gallagher