Way to go, Governor Gav!

It’s become harder to say that the state has done nothing about the housing crisis.

Of course, much of the state didn’t see it—because they had no power. But during the PG&E blackouts, Newsom was signing a package of bills that could help make it easier to produce housing. That’s not enough, given the depths of the housing shortage in the state. But it’s not nothing.

The bills give would-be homebuilders—be they homeowners, landlords or developers—some leverage in fighting cities and NIMBYs who find a way to be against all kinds of housing. SB 330 should speed up approvals and permitting at the local level. 

Other bills create new trusts to help homeowners, renters and developers who build affordable housing, ease rules for infrastructure districts, and create more transparency around housing development and surplus land.

Best of all, a suite of bills deregulates your backyards, with rules that make it easier to build granny flats even when your city doesn’t want you to.

Newsom’s signings came on top of his major bill to protect tenants from extreme rent increases; that has unintended consequences, but certainly shows action, and may make it easier politically to create more housing. And the governor wisely vetoed SB 5, which started as a bill to counter SB 50; Newsom found it too expensive, and he was right. (There were other reasons to veto it—see here)

There is a lot of commentary about Newsom moving left. But on housing, he is moving in very different directions, at the same time. That all of the above approach is the right one when it comes to something as expensive as housing.

The governor says he’s just getting started says that he’s just getting started. Let’s hope so.