“Some communities have only built one sort of housing for one sort of person,” Assembly Member Miguel Santiago, D-Los Angeles, said. “It’s one thing to say we are not discriminating. It’s a whole other thing to say we are dismantling discrimination.”
Santiago’s AB1304, which was among the bills Newsom signed Tuesday, has consequences for an ongoing process in which local governments must plan to meet ambitious state targets for new housing to accommodate population growth over the next eight years. It requires cities and counties, as part of that process, to analyze patterns of racial segregation in their communities and explain how their plans would address those disparities.
Doing so will force local governments to think about providing a range of housing options for the diverse populations of California, Santiago said. “We want to make sure when we’re building, we’re building for everyone.”
Two other bills target the unequal treatment that Black and Latino homeowners and buyers continue to face, which contributes to far lower rates of ownership than among white and Asian American Californians. During the pandemic real estate boom, Black homeowners in the Bay Area complained that they were shut out of favorable financing and major property gains because appraisers systematically undervalued their homes.
SB263 by state Sen. Susan Rubio, D-Baldwin Park (Los Angeles), adds implicit bias training to the coursework for obtaining a real estate license. AB948 by Assembly Member Chris Holden, D-Pasadena, makes it illegal to base the market value of a property on factors including race, gender, religion, disability and sexual orientation of the homeowner or residents of the surrounding neighborhood. It also mandates cultural competency instruction for real estate appraisers and directs the state to collect demographic information in complaints of undervaluing.
Holden said his father worked on similar fair housing issues as a state legislator in the 1970s, a stark reminder that California must still do more to ensure opportunities for all people to have a roof over their heads.
“It almost feels to some degree like this is ‘Back to the Future,’” Holden said.
Newsom signed the measures during a visit Tuesday to a housing development in Oakland with a mix of market-rate and affordable units, which he praised as an opportunity to build trust and community.
“I don’t want to see people segmented in any way, shape or form,” he said. “I want people living together, advancing together, across every conceivable difference.”
Other housing equity bills he signed include:
AB491 by Assembly Member Christopher Ward, D-San Diego, which requires mixed-income apartment buildings and condominiums to provide residents of affordable units equal access to entrances, common areas and amenities and prohibit developers from isolating all of the affordable units on one floor or in one section of the building.
AB1095 by Assembly Member Ken Cooley, D-Rancho Cordova, which gives more consideration to owner-occupied projects in state affordable housing programs, an effort to address the racial gap in home ownership.
AB721 by Assembly Member Richard Bloom, D-Santa Monica, which clarifies that 100% affordable housing projects can override size restrictions in property deeds and build as many units as local zoning allows, eliminating what Bloom says are the vestiges of racist historical efforts to keep multifamily housing out of certain neighborhoods.
One of the measures was inspired in part by an article written last year by Chronicle columnist Justin Phillips, about property deeds that still contain language prohibiting non-white people from buying them, decades after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled those type of racial covenants unenforceable.
AB1466 by Assembly Member Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento, makes it easier for homeowners to remove that language from their deeds and requires county recorders to set up programs to identify properties with racial covenants and proactively redact the deeds.
McCarty said the measure will provide a more comprehensive picture of where discriminatory policies existed that could inform future efforts to correct those past injustices.
“This mapping will have significance for us as a state,” he said.
The legislative housing package that Newsom signed Tuesday included an additional 20 bills addressing a wide range of development fees, affordability restrictions and programs to promote construction, including SB478 by Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, which would loosen local restrictions on square footage for small multifamily projects.
Alexei Koseff is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @akoseff