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Lawmakers Seek To Remove Affordable Housing Roadblock In State Constitution

SACRAMENTO (CBS SF) – A California law that requires voter approval for publicly funded affordable housing projects would be repealed under legislation introduced Monday in the state Senate.

The 1950 law, Article 34 in the California Constitution, creates roadblocks for cities by requiring costly elections and adding red tape, according to the legislation's proponents, state Sens. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, and Ben Allen, D-Santa Monica.

"Article 34 is a racist provision in the California Constitution - designed to keep people of color and poor people out of certain neighborhoods - and it needs to be repealed," Wiener said.

Publicly owned affordable housing is key to reducing homelessness and providing housing for residents of all income levels, Wiener said.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and the city of Los Angeles are also sponsoring the legislation.

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Wiener and Allen argue that basic compliance with existing law can cost affordable housing developers between $10,000 and $80,000, with overall compliance costing from 1 percent to 15 percent of the cost of building each affordable unit.

"L.A. fought for - and won - billions of new affordable housing dollars in the last three years, but Article 34 inflicts unnecessary and costly burdens on cities, delaying the construction of housing in the communities we need it most," Garcetti said.

The majority of California renters pay more than 30 percent of their income on rent, and nearly one-third of renters pay more than 50 percent of their income, according to the California Department of Housing and Community Development.

If approved by the legislature, the repeal would be submitted to voters on the next statewide ballot.

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