The California State Legislature passed a sweeping package of bills this year, dubbed The Housing Package. A critical component of the Package is SB 35: Streamlined approval process. It mandates all cities to implement a by-right approval process for housing project that kicks in when a city has failed to build enough affordable housing according to the state’s data.

Councilmember Lori Droste has proposed an ordinance to be considered on December 5th that will do just that for housing developments that are 100% affordable. But it gets better: her ordinance will apply even if Berkeley has built its allocation of affordable housing! Berkeley has never been able to meet its goals. Ever. Many affordable housing projects get killed off due to lengthy approval processes involving multiple appeals from neighbors regarding “massing”, “density”, and “do we really have to let poor people live next to me?”

Yes. If we want to dismantle systemic discrimination against people of color, LGBTQ folk, low income families, and generally anyone who can’t afford a $2M luxury single family home, we need to make inroads on allowing affordable housing in some of our most expensive neighborhoods. Mandatory Affordable Housing is the way to go, and Droste’s ordinance does just that.

Councilmembers Harrison and Hahn are working hard to block this legislation. They’ve submitted an amendment to Droste’s ordinance that sends this off to endless studies and discussions. The reality though is that renters of Berkeley don’t have the luxury of waiting for a study to show what we already know. No more delays. Affordable housing now.

East Bay for Everyone is organizing to support this ordinance. It needs your support to get passed in city council.

What can you do today?

Write your city councilmember. Ask them to pass Droste’s ordinance without the Hahn amendment. Tell them how important it is that we expedite the approval of 100% affordable housing in a city that has consistently failed to meet its own goals. The city’s own 2017 Biannual Housing Pipeline Report shows that it has built exactly zero homes for extremely low income and moderate income families. Additionally, it has only met 34% of its obligation for very low income and 15% of its low income goals, representing families making less than $30,000 and $80,000 per year, respectively. These are the people in most need of housing assistance and this ordinance will provide that.

What can you do next week?

Make plans to show up to the Berkeley City Council meeting on December 5th at 7pm. We’ll be having a sign making party the night before at our office in 2044 Franklin St starting at 7pm. We need as many people in the room as possible to get this passed. Bring a friend or two. Tell your neighbors. This is a huge deal.