A California Chamber of Commerce-opposed bill that would increase the cost of living in Los Angeles County and hurt working families is awaiting action by Governor Gavin Newsom.
The proposal, SB 679 (Kamlager; D-Los Angeles), creates a new agency with broad taxing authority on various entities in Los Angeles County under the guise of creating a new low-income housing program. However, the County already has jurisdiction over this issue and has billions in unspent funds to build affordable housing.
Statutory Authority Is Unnecessary
SB 679 aims to replicate the Bay Area Housing Financing Authority, which created a structure for fundraising and revenue sharing that did not previously exist for the nine counties in the Bay Area. In Los Angeles County, which governs 88 cities, these powers already exist within the County government, so the statutory authority established under SB 679 is unnecessary. It is unclear why a new bureaucracy is needed to undertake actions that can already be carried out by existing governments.
The duplicative agency created by SB 679 would be permitted to place the following financing measures on the ballot in Los Angeles County, including all its incorporated cities, to support the agency’s housing priorities and programs: Parcel Taxes, Gross Receipts Business License Taxes, Documentary Transfer Taxes, Unspecified Bonds, Revenue Bonds, Mortgage Revenue Bonds, and Private Activity Bonds.
Could Lead to Historic Tax Increase
The new bureaucracy and additional fees and taxes created by SB 679 have the potential to hurt many of the very families the bill is intended to help.
Specifically, SB 679 would:
- Hurt working families and the middle class by driving up the cost of living in one of the costliest regions in California. With inflation at a 40-year high, the additional local taxes would make housing more expensive, adding to the ever-increasing struggles of working families.
- Increase barriers to affordable housing development by requiring another layer of bureaucracy that a developer would have to go through to receive funding, adding time and expense to the process.
- Forgo accountability, transparency, and local oversight by authorizing the agency to raise countywide taxes and use the revenue for projects that do not benefit the cities being taxed, diluting the ability of voters to determine how their taxes contribute to the local process.
- Duplicate existing authority of the Los Angeles County government to administer and allocate funds, provide technical assistance for tenant protection, and create and preserve affordable housing.
The CalChamber is asking businesses to contact the Governor and urge him to veto SB 679.
Staff Contact: Adam Regele