The state Assembly completed work on three of several Building Trades-backed bills Thursday night in actions that represent a first and significant step towards California addressing its housing crisis.
With the Senate having already approved them, the Assembly finalized passage on Senate Bill 2, with a 54-25 vote; on Senate Bill 3, with a 56-21 vote; and on Senate Bill 35 with a 47-27 vote. The bills now must go back to the Senate for concurrence on some minor amendments.
Senate Bill 2 imposes a real estate transaction fee that will raise $250 million a year to be allocated toward low-income housing programs, with a special emphasis on addressing the state's burgeoning homeless population.
Senate Bill 3 is a $4 billion bond measure that sets aside $1 billion for veterans' housing programs, with the rest of the funding going toward leveraging affordable housing construction packages all over the state.
Senate Bill 35 will streamline the approval process to cut down on red tape on urban infill projects. The bill also contains provisions to prompt cities to meet the housing obligations of their general plans. At the same time, the bill contains measures to protect environmentally sensitive and historic areas, and also to prevent demolition of some already-existing low-income housing.
Importantly for the State Building and Construction Trades Council, these bills – plus others included in the housing package that also are still pending – contain components that provide for construction workers who build the new housing to be paid the prevailing wage. SB 35 and other streamlining bills also require that 60 percent of the trades workers hired on the housing construction projects must be graduates of state-approved apprenticeship programs.
“This housing package addresses the critical need to fund affordable housing and streamline the approval process,” SBCTC President Robbie Hunter said. “SB 35, in particular, will streamline the approval process for construction and ensure that workers are paid the area standard of the prevailing wage. It also ensures that a skilled and trained workforce that has graduated from state-approved apprenticeship programs will be utilized on these projects.
“This creates an even playing field for union contractors that are partnered with joint labor-management apprenticeship programs,” Hunter said.