I’m not sure I would have voted for SB 827 if I were in the legislature. But I loved that the bill was proposed and out there.

A number of legislators said the same thing. Which points to the best argument for advancing the bill:

The fear it created in local governments.

Housing is fundamentally a local issue. But the state of California needs good local housing policy. So the last couple of years, as the housing crisis has worsened and local governments often refuse to address, the state has adopted a strategy of fear.

“See all these big housing bills?” says the legislature. “If you locals don’t fix things, we will try to fix here in Sacramento. And do you really want that?”

That’s why SB 827 will be back in some form. It outlines priorities and creates pressure for more local housing.

It would be good if it were paired with reform of local government finance – which would have to be constitutional – to change the incentives to encourage local housing production.

It’s not too late to do such reform this year as part of the budget process and put a measure on the ballot in November—but such a measure could have unintended consequences. A better solution would be a new constitution for the state, but that is too sensible for California to pursue it.

I’m wary of ballot initiatives, but I wouldn’t mind seeing SB 827 turned into a ballot initiative (though it should be an initiative that allows for legislative amendment).