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Two Housing Bills, Toxic Chemical Ban Sponsored by Santa Monica Lawmaker Signed into Law
By Jorge Casuso
October 1, 2018 -- Two housing bills and a bill banning toxic chemicals were among the measures sponsored by Santa Monica lawmaker Richard Bloom signed by the Governor last week.
The housing measures address inconsistencies in applying housing density bonuses on the coast and reform the process used for determining and apportioning regional housing needs.
Among the changes made by AB 1771 to the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) process is requiring the regional distribution to be more data-driven and equitable.
“The RHNA has not worked properly for quite some time,” Bloom said. “Local politics and flawed methodology have distorted the RHNA process and produced insufficient and inequitable housing across the state."
The new law "ensure that wealthier cities cannot skirt their responsibility to plan for and build housing,” the former Santa Monica mayor said.
The law will have little impact in Santa Monica, which has been far exceeding the number of market rate units in its allocation as well as affordable units, according to data released by the State.
The State's most recent report found that Santa Monica built more than four times its allocation of housing units between 2008 and 2014, said former Mayor Denny Zane.
The city also has far exceeded allocations for moderate, low and very-low income units, Zane said.
In its current five-year cycle ending in 2019, "the city expects to build more than three times its allocation and looks likely to absolutely crush its affordable housing targets," Zane said.
Bloom's other housing bill -- AB 2797 -- addresses inconsistencies in the application of housing density bonuses on the coast in the wake of an appellate court ruling.
The court found that the Coastal Act supersedes Density Bonus Law and the Mello Act requiring developers to replace affordable units when they are demolished.
The court agreed with Los Angeles' determination that the increased density used two accommodate low-income units made the coastal project visually incompatible with the surrounding neighborhood.
The ruling, Bloom said, "weakened our ability to build our way out of the current affordable housing shortage."
The new law "corrects this erroneous interpretation of statue,” he said.
A third bill sponsored by Bloom and signed into law prohibits the sale of household products -- including fabrics, furniture, and children’s products -- that contain flame retardant chemicals ("Santa Monica Lawmaker's Bills to Ban Rat Poisons, Toxic Flame Retardant Chemicals Pass Key Committee," April 12, 2018).
Children and firefighters are at particularly high risk of exposure to the chemicals, which have been linked to lower birth weight, reduced IQ and impaired neurological development in children, Bloom said.
“For too long, we have allowed flame retardant chemicals to poison our children and fill the lungs of firefighters with carcinogenic toxins,” Bloom said.
Also last month, a measure co-authored by Bloom that prohibits most dine-in restaurants from offering plastic straws unless requested by a customer was signed into law ("Santa Monica Lawmaker's Bill Restricting Plastic Straws Signed Into Law," September 24, 2018).
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