December 16, 2018

The Committee to House the Bay Area approves CASA Compact


After 18 months of intense work, dialogue and debate, the MTC-sponsored Committee to House the Bay Area (CASA) has finalized and approved its Compact to respond to the housing crisis experienced by the nine-county Bay Area. Built on the framework of Protection for renters, Preservation of existing affordable homes, and Production of more homes to meet the broad spectrum of need, these “3-Ps”will now be the subject of State Legislation that will authorize and enable our region to implement the CASA Compact.  The ten Compact elements listed here will all move forward as a package (summary as published in the San Jose Mercury News).

  • Just cause for eviction: After a tenant has lived in a building for at least 12 months, they would no longer be vulnerable to arbitrary evictions. They could still get evicted if they fail to pay the rent, violate the rental agreement, create a nuisance or engage in illegal activity, if the owner is moving in or removing the building from the rental market, the building is unsafe or for demolition.
  • Emergency rent cap: Rent increases would be capped region-wide at the consumer price index plus 5 percent, per year. There are some exceptions for passing along the capital cost of repairs to renters or if the landlord had not raised the rent in prior years.
  • Emergency rent and legal assistance: Any tenant facing eviction could have access to a lawyer, unless the landlord or master tenant bringing the eviction action is living in the same unit as the tenant being evicted. And, low-income tenants facing eviction could receive emergency rent assistance, with the total amount of assistance capped at between $5,000 to $10,000.
  • More tiny homes: Technically, they’re called “accessory dwelling units,” or ADUs, but the idea is to make it easier for people to build homes of fewer than 500 square feet on their properties.
  • Taller buildings near transit: This proposal is similar to a law state Sen. Scott Wiener introduced last year and revived this year. The newest iteration would require cities to approve buildings up to three stories high along high-frequency bus corridors and up to around six stories high near BART, Caltrain or other fixed rail stations.
  • A better permitting process: Establishes standards for permitting residential projects that already conform to the city or county’s underlying development standards, or zoning codes. It also requires more transparency and consistencies about how fees are set and enforced.
  • Fast-track certain projects: Streamlining, streamlining, streamlining. This would create a faster way for projects to get reviewed, as long as they meet a set of criteria, including already complying to underlying zoning, exist in an already-urban area, and setting aside a portion of the units to be affordable to middle-class residents, generally defined as making between 80-110 percent of the area’s median income. In exchange, the qualifying projects would be eligible for reduced taxes, reduced parking requirements and a density bonus.
  • Unlock public lands: Make it easier for public agencies to develop their land for affordable housing. Create a database listing all publicly owned land in the Bay Area, limit approval process to no more than two years, and deploy 10 percent of available public land to affordable housing on an annual basis.
  • New taxes to generate $1.5 billion annually: Generate new revenue from a broad range of sources, including employer taxes, property taxes, vacant parcel or home taxes, general obligation bonds, sales taxes and more.
  • New, regional housing authority: One regional entity that could purchase, lease and sell land, monitor and report progress toward the region’s housing goals, provide incentives and offer technical assistance. This entity would not regulate or enforce housing policies, but it would be able to dole out regional money for housing.

The Compact was approved by the CASA Steering Committee on December 12th. It went to the MTC Board on Wednesday, December 19th, with the Board voting 14-3 to have its chair, Jake MacKenzie (who is also on the Rohnert Park City Council) sign the Compact. It now heads to the  ABAG Board in January, with the hope that the commissioners will bless the Compact and allow their chair to sign. In the meantime, the Compact is taking shape in Sacramento.

SV@Home’s Executive Director, Leslye Corsiglia, along with CASA co-chairs Michael Covarrubias and Fred Blackwell, has been in preliminary discussions with our Bay Area Caucus Members in the State Legislature and they are looking forward to working with us to translate the Compact into the legislation needed to bring all of its elements to fruition as a comprehensive state bill package. While some aspects of the Compact are already reflected in bills that were introduced earlier this month, we will need to assess which bills can be amended to fully reflect the CASA agreements and which Compact elements will require separate legislation limited to the 9-county Bay Area.

Find more details on the CASA Compact here: