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Comments/Amendments to CASA Compact

December 28, 2018

By Jesse Arreguin [Mayor of Berkeley] :berkeleydailyplanet – excerpt

To: Carol Dutra-Vernaci, MTC Commissioner

Thank you very much for requesting my thoughts on the proposed CASA Compact, as approved by the CASA Steering Committee. As an alternate to the ABAG Executive Board, I have studied the various proposals and have been actively engaged in discussions at ABAG and with key stakeholders. Overall, I agree with the goals of the CASA Compact. We are facing a housing affordability crisis that requires bold action. The proposals are ambitious, and we must focus on the three components: production, preservation and protection if we are to prevent displacement and begin to reverse the troubling trend of rising housing costs.

We were first presented with these concepts at the November ABAG meeting. I acknowledge that this proposal has improved since it was initially presented, and MTC staff have made refinements based on input from the ABAG Board and stakeholders. My general concerns with some of the Compact Elements remain, it employs a “one-size fits all” approach to addressing the lack of housing production in job rich areas. Rather than rewarding those cities and counties that have produced new housing, Compact Element # 5 proposes minimum heights near transit stations and bus lines, overriding local regulations.

The proposed financing mechanisms are varied and could conflict with the ability for local jurisdictions to place bonds, parcel taxes or sales tax measures on local ballots to fund other services. In addition, do we need to create a new regional entity to propose and administer these funds? MTC or a new merged governing body can administer these new housing funds.

According to MTC figures, Alameda County has the best rate of jobs for new housing units produced: 4 jobs to every unit. Yet some of the Compact Elements will take away the right of cities to plan for new housing, and the regional funding sources including new employee head taxes, linkage fees and revenue sharing mechanisms as proposed will largely stay in the county of origin (75% will stay in the county of origin). Job rich cities in Santa Clara County that have driven the regional housing crisis, these funds which may be significant will not go to a regional pool and help San Francisco, Oakland or other cities help produce new affordable units. Therefore the impacts of the regional crisis are not being equitably distributed.

I believe fundamentally that we need a regional housing policy that focuses taxes and regulations on those communities that have experienced significant job growth but have resisted new housing production. Additionally, those companies responsible for enormous job growth must pay their fair share.

Below are my specific comments on the various Compact Elements for your consideration. Thank you for representing the interests of Alameda County cities in this process… (more)

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