The Homework Newsletter

The HomeWork: June 17, 2021

June 17, 2021

Welcome to the June 17, 2021 Main edition of The HomeWork, the official newsletter of California YIMBY — legislative updates, news clips, housing research and analysis, and the latest writings from the California YIMBY team.

News from Sacramento

The Legislature is moving quickly through its agenda! Bills that made it out of their first house are now headed back into policy committees in the second house, and must be heard by mid-July. We expect big action on SB 10, SB 477, and SB 478 next week in the Assembly Housing Committee.
A couple of early wins in the second house season:
  • SB 9 passed Assembly Local Government, just as its parent, SB 1120, did last year; increased NIMBY opposition and organizing against the bill had no effect. That bodes well for the effect of that organizing on the broader Assembly.
  • AB 128, the main vehicle for the Budget Act this year, passed the Legislature early and included a critical proposal from Governor Newsom to fund the creation of the Housing Accountability Unit, which will provide local governments with technical assistance on following state housing laws. This also passed over the objections of many local governments and anti-housing groups, including the City of Hidden Hills, multiple homeowners’ associations (HOAs), and Livable California.


Housing Research and Analysis

How Density Shortens Commute Times in the US and Mexico

A new study by Guerra and Li (2021) compares 100 of the largest urban regions in the United States and Mexico. Their models mapping the transportation choices and socioeconomic trends from a sample size of five million commuters have important implications for the future of urban land use policy and economic development.

Key takeaways:

  1. In general, American and Mexican commuters in more densely populated, central neighborhoods — and critically, in those with less road space — tended to have shorter trips, and were less likely to commute using a personal automobile.

  2. Despite this general pattern, city residents in the United States are more reluctant to adopt a modal shift away from driving than their Mexican counterparts: car trips were stubbornly consistent in the US across the economic and geographic spectrum.

  3. The report finds: “Mexico’s urban commuters may be substantially more likely to change travel behavior in response to differences in income, urban form, or transportation supply than in the US.” But at the same time, “population density is significantly correlated with workers choosing active modes over private vehicles in the US, but not in Mexico.”


The Limits of Inclusionary Zoning

A new study from the UC Berkeley Terner Center for Housing Innovation tackles a thorny question in housing policy: how does the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program actually work to produce low-income housing? And to what extent is complexity a feature or a bug of the program? Kneebone & Reid (2021) are on the case.

Key takeaways:

  1. Tax credits aren’t enough to finance any individual project. 80% of projects surveyed in the past decade used four to eight separate financing sources in their “capital stack”—a trend that has grown with time.
  2. Coordinating multiple funding sources across different time constraints makes the development timeline longer and delays the construction of much-needed housing.
  3. Statewide housing finance agencies can help coordinate funding sources and lower carrying costs for affordable housing developments.



Houser Headlines

Upcoming Events

June 22-24: Virtual YIMBY Movement Lobby Week

Sign up now to attend Virtual Lobby Week — a collaborative effort of the YIMBY movement designed to amplify our voices in the State Capitol. Can’t make it to 3 straight days of meetings with legislators? No worries! Each day will cover a different area of California, so you only need to join during the day that corresponds to your region. And no need to block off your entire day — between trainings, lobbying meetings, and guest speakers, we’ll only need you for two hours between 8:30 AM and 1 PM. Learn more and RSVPRSVP HERE »

YIMBY Social – Top Posts


A screenshot of Alfred Twu's new children's book: Rhena the House Makes New FriendsA tweet from Dulce Vasquez that reads "I spoke last night in support of SB9 and SB10. In LA, the AVERAGE price of a single family home is $825K. The next generation of Black & Brown Angelenos are already losing their dream of homeownership. We have a housing crisis and we need to BUILD MORE HOUSING."



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