Ahead of the recall, Newsom lets a polarizing housing bill sit on his desk.

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Gavin Newsom’s desk is a measure called Senate Bill 9, which would allow many duplexes across California, including neighborhoods where apartments have long been banned.

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The bill was the focus of this year’s legislative efforts to tackle the state’s housing and homelessness crisis, increase density and help address the shortfall at the root of the state’s affordable housing problem. Economists on both sides have long advocated such a move.

Although Mr Newsom in 2018Marshall plan for housing“He made no public statement about SB9 as it made its way through the Legislature, and his office had not commented on whether he intended to sign it.


One can only speculate as to why Mr Newsom is silent on the issue, but he appears to be shying away from any controversial topics ahead of Tuesday’s recall vote.

And some things in the state have become more controversial Compared to the topic of single-family zoning, a debate that pits the need for greater housing densities against politically active suburban neighborhoods, whose sprawling yards and low-slung character have been part of the California dream for more than a century. organized as such.

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Mr. Newsom is far from alone. While the governor has hailed the recall election as a referendum on Trumpism, a different kind of housing policy has emerged when people talk — or don’t explicitly talk — about the affordability crisis that continues to hit the top of voters. ranks as area of ​​concern. Candidates, even those who have ruled in a pro-density manner, have either defended single-family zoning or shied away from any discussion of ending it.

Take former San Diego mayor Kevin Faulkner, who is trying to oust Mr Newsom from power and has exposed his bipartisan record as Republican mayor in a city with a majority-democratic city council.

That record includes legislation that makes it easier to build ancillary housing units—known as in-law units—and grandmother flats—in single-family neighborhoods. Thanks in part to this law, it is possible to convert single-family plots in San Diego into what are essentially small apartment complexes with four or more units in the backyard. The zoning hasn’t changed on paper, but in reality it has.

Yet when asked about single-family zoning remember debate, Mr. Faulkner backtracked from his policy, saying: “When we look at these parts of the law to end single-family zoning in California, it’s wrong. I’ll veto that.”

In the same debate, Kevin Kelly, a Republican who voted for sb9 in committee, And doug ose, a former GOP congressman who later dropped out of the race heart attack, spoke in favor of local control and single-family zoning, before saying that the state needs to expedite permitting and reduce development charges. He left out how the state is passing laws to do so, and that permission is largely an act of local control.

Housing is an unlikely subject because the only way to fix California’s housing crisis is to ease the supply shortage. But building housing where people already live – especially the state’s wide single-family neighborhoods – is so politically difficult that lawmakers have been troubled by the problem since the 1970s.

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