MOORLACH UPDATE — Senate Approval of AB 448 — August 9, 2018

It’s not often that I have to point out that a news piece is a little dated. Assembly Bill 448 was presented on the Senate Floor on Monday afternoon and passed unanimously. One Senate seat is vacant and two Senators were absent, so obtaining a 37-0 vote is quite a statement. I had the honor of being the Floor Manager for the bill, also know as the Floor Jockey for Assemblymembers Daly and Quirk-Silva, and it can be seen by CLICKING HERE.

The OC Register front-page, top-of-the-fold piece below also covers the public debate this bill has enjoyed in Orange County between Supervisor Steel (see MOORLACH UPDATE — AB 448 — July 8, 2018) and myself (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Homelessness JPA Solution — July 11, 2018).

Collaboration on obtaining available funding is a smart move. Healthy structured communication between cities, nonprofits, and the private sector is also a smart move. And this dovetails with Federal Judge David O. Carter’s efforts concerning the homeless. The bill goes back to the Assembly for concurrence and then it is up to the Governor to sign it, thus confirming his ongoing concerns for addressing the homeless issue in California.

P.S. I also want to wish my patient and loving wife, Trina, a happy 38th anniversary!

HOMELESS

Bill would create housing trust

Proposed legislation puts county in a better position to finance supportive shelter

By Theresa Walker

thwalker

https://www.ocregister.com/2018/08/09/state-legislation-to-create-orange-county-housing-trust-could-help-ease-the-local-homeless-crisis/

With the state legislature back in session, Orange County is poised to see the approval of a bill that could dramatically change the landscape for housing its homeless population.

Assembly Bill 448 would create the Orange County Housing Trust, a regional joint powers authority that would allow the county and its 34 cities to collectively compete for hundreds of millions of dollars in public and private funding.

It would more quickly finance the construction of supportive housing for homeless people, and affordable housing for others with low incomes .

Proponents see AB 448 as a potential game changer in a county that for more than a decade had been notoriously slow — if not completely non-responsive — in addressing a growing homeless crisis, but in the past couple of years has scrambled to catch up.

“If this is created, Orange County will have a leg up on other parts of California in attracting the necessary funds to address homelessness,” said Assemblyman Tom Daly (D-Anaheim), who introduced the bill in May with Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva (D-Fullerton).

The bill’s purpose, as described in its text, is strictly a financing mechanism, with no land-use authority, no means to own or operate housing, or to dictate to local jurisdictions where to build.

The housing trust, which could issue bonds and leverage private dollars, would be governed by a board of directors to include city and county representatives, and community members.

The bill also calls for an annual audit for transparency.

Bipartisan support

AB 448 quickly gained bipartisan support among state and local elected officials, with the notable exception of Orange County’s 2nd District Supervisor Michelle Steel.

Its coauthors in the state senate are Republicans: Pat Bates of Laguna Niguel, John Moorlach of Costa Mesa, and Janet Nguyen of Garden Grove. The legislation also has broad support in the private sector.

The legislation grew out of the simultaneous efforts of former Santa Ana Mayor and Irvine Company No. 2 executive Dan Young to secure $100 million in private financing and the Association of California Cities – Orange County to harness the backing of city officials in creating an estimated 2,700 units of supportive housing.

So far, the ACC-OC has identified 2,000 potential sites, said Heather Stratman, executive director of the ACC-OC. And a collection of 50 wealthy “legacy families” in Orange County are poised to commit $2 million each that could be used to leverage public dollars.

“So many legacy families in Orange County want to do their part,” said Bill Taormina, a wealthy Anaheim businessman who, as one of the legacy families, has helped line up the pledges of private support.

Opposition

Supervisor Steel outlined her opposition in an Op-Ed published in the Orange County Registerin July.

She argued that AB 448 would “take away local control, and grow the size of government to build large scale homeless and subsidized government housing in your backyard with your hard-earned dollars.”

Sen. Moorlach responded days later with his own opinion piece, also published in The Register, that called Steel’s opposition “classic NIMBYism and fearmongering.”

The bill made its way smoothly through the Assembly against the backdrop of a still unfolding civil rights lawsuit filed in late January over the dismantling of homeless encampments at the Santa Ana River Trail and a scathing report from the Orange County Grand Jury in May that blamed the failure of local elected leadership, poor city-county collaboration and NIMBY residents for not housing the chronically homeless.

AB 448 is expected to go straight to the Senate floor this month and be approved before the Aug. 31 end of the current legislative session, then sent to Gov. Jerry Brown. The governor would have until Sept. 30 to sign or veto any legislation.

A good start

Homeless advocate Mohammed Aly called the stamp of approval from Moorlach, who spent about 10 years apiece in each of his previous roles as a county supervisor and the treasurer-tax collector, a good sign of the bill’s attention to accountability. Aly helped line up endorsements for AB 448 in its early stages.

“Nobody is more fiscally responsible than Sen. Moorlach,” said Aly, a lawyer who founded the Orange County Poverty Alleviation Coalition and has gone to battle numerous times with county and city officials over treatment of homeless people.

Quirk-Silva said the bill not only is backed by Orange County’s state delegation but also by legislators elsewhere in California.

“It’s one of the few times you see some real significant bipartisan support,” she said.

AB 448 is similar to housing trusts established in Santa Clara County, Silicon Valley, and San Mateo County, said Cesar Covarrubias, executive director of The Kennedy Commission, an Irvine-based nonprofit that advocates from the local to the federal government for housing that people earning less than $10 an hour could afford.

While he applauds the Orange County legislation as a good start at a regional approach toward financing affordable housing for homeless people and others with low incomes, Covarrubias said it doesn’t go far enough. The Kennedy Commission has long advocated for a local housing bond.

“Strategically, you need to be in support of creating more resources and not just taking advantage of the opportunities.” Covarrubias said.

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MOORLACH UPDATE — Homelessness JPA Solution — July 11, 2018

I was interviewed recently by Rick Reiff of Inside OC, and the topic of homelessness came up (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Inside OC, Part 2 — May 7, 2018). We had such an engaging discussion, that he made two shows out of our session.

Because I’ve been working on this issue for years, I did a little search of my blog. Here are entries from just the last six years that included the topic in the title, going from most recent to oldest:

* MOORLACH UPDATE — Homelessness Solutions — April 9, 2018

* MOORLACH UPDATE — Homelessness Press Release — March 29, 2018

* MOORLACH UPDATE — Homelessness Communication — March 28, 2018

* MOORLACH UPDATE — Homelessness Plan? — March 27, 2018

* MOORLACH UPDATE — Homelessness Pace — March 24, 2018

* MOORLACH UPDATE — Funding OC’s Homelessness — March 18, 2018

* MOORLACH UPDATE — 2017 OC Homeless Deaths — December 20, 2017

* MOORLACH UPDATE — Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day — December 4, 2017

* MOORLACH UPDATE — Civic Center Homeless — September 7, 2016

* MOORLACH UPDATE — Tackling Homelessness — August 13, 2016

* MOORLACH UPDATE — Homeless Shelter at Depot — November 21, 2014

* MOORLACH UPDATE — Santa Ana Homeless Shelter — August 21, 2014

* MOORLACH UPDATE — Homeless Shelter, et al — July 16, 2014

* MOORLACH UPDATE — Homelessness Review — December 19, 2013

* MOORLACH UPDATE — Homeless Shelter — October 18, 2013

* MOORLACH UPDATE — Homelessness — February 14, 2013

* MOORLACH UPDATE — Helping Homeless — February 21, 2012

* MOORLACH UPDATE — Hob-Knobbing with Homeless — February 14, 2012

* MOORLACH UPDATE — Ending Homelessness — January 27, 2012

And I could provide plenty more on the subject that did not include the word “homeless” or “homelessness” in the title.

You would think that I was either obsessed or passionate about the subject. And, I do not mean to bore you with this difficult matter. But, I do focus on more than pension reform and unrestricted net deficits.

This includes working with an incredible coalition of organizations to address this concern (see MOORLACH UPDATE — AB 448 — July 8, 2018). Something is happening in Orange County, and it’s positive. So, when someone of stature casts aspersions, it calls for a response.

My rebuttal is provided in the OC Register with the piece below.

OPINION

AB 448 would help solve Orange County’s homelessness crisis

By JOHN MOORLACH

https://www.ocregister.com/2018/07/10/ab448-would-help-solve-orange-countys-homelessness-crisis/

0314_ocr-l-homeless-camps-02.jpg?w=501
People living on the Union Pacific Railroad easement along I-5 between Brookhurst Street and Euclid Street clear their belongings in Anaheim on Tuesday, Mar 13, 2018. The railroad is clearing the track away of homeless encampments. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Living in Orange County, I see the same things you do: homeless people on street corners, in front of stores, even on the front lawns of our homes.

That’s why I have been working with other Orange County civic, business and charity leaders to deal with this crisis in ways that protect our citizens while humanely housing the destitute.

I’m co-authoring Assembly Bill 448, a bipartisan effort to give all of Orange County’s 34 cities, and the county, a seat at the table to coordinate spending of existing and future dedicated homeless funds. The housing trust would unite our cities in one coordinated voice to better obtain Orange County’s fair share of taxes.

When we cooperate and focus, Orange County’s leaders have a legacy of accomplishing great things, such as:

• The Orange County Transportation Authority, representing equally all five supervisorial districts.

• The Mosquito and Vector Control District, on whose board I served for six years, directed by the 34 cities and the county.

• The Transportation Corridor Agencies and the Orange County Fire Authority, directed by all impacted cities

There are forces that are encouraging more resolve in this critical area. One major driver is a federal judge. Consequently, this is the time for a leadership opportunity.

The Orange County Grand Jury recently released a report, titled “Where There’s a Will There’s a Way: Housing Orange County’s Chronically Homeless.” Its conclusion: “Nothing can be accomplished without leadership and collaboration between the County and cities.”

AB 448 takes a conservative approach to homelessness:

• No new taxes.

• Private sector involvement, especially from local mission-oriented charities.

• Efficiencies in obtaining funding from Sacramento.

Done properly, the homeless community will be assisted. Best of all, it will free our parks and public places — and our front lawns — for you and your families, by helping the homeless get treatment for their mental and other illnesses.

I’m hoping this will be a model for other counties to follow.

For all these reasons I was dismayed to read Supervisor Michelle Steel’s recent column, “Orange County Housing Finance Trust unnecessary at best.” She claims AB 448 “will take away local control, and grow the size of government, to build large scale homeless and subsidized government housing in your backyard with your hard-earned dollars.”

This is not leadership. This is classic NIMBYism and fearmongering.

She insists, “[T]his proposal increases the cost of market rate housing by designating land that could build more homes for government subsidized ‘affordable housing’. AB448 won’t make housing more affordable, it will create new government debt and a greater financial burden for the residents forced to pay for it.”

Sadly, these assertions are false. In fact, the trust would claim state money our taxpayers already pay, not add even one Lincoln penny to existing levies. As to the market price of homes, it’s Economics 101: Increase the supply and the price will go down. The demand is there from the homeless; the question is whether we meet the supply.

State laws passed last year in the 2017 Housing Package, such as Senate Bill 35, mandate more local housing construction. And federal Judge David O. Carter continues reviewing county homeless policies. If the housing trust is not enacted, the county and our 34 cities could lose all control over solutions.

Ironically, the good Supervisor claims the bill “doesn’t actually do anything.”

Steel’s only constructive suggestions are to “overhaul” the California Environmental Quality Act and “our current tax system … . Even Gov. Brown has recognized this problem, but has only proposed streamlining for politically favored projects,” meaning sports stadiums.

I long have supported and continue to support reforming CEQA. But Brown soon will be gone. Tellingly, one of his re-election planks was CEQA reform — way back for his re-election in 1978, 40 years ago. We can’t wait another 40 years.

As to tax reform, right now the formidable task is repealing the recent new taxes, such as the gas tax.

I urge Orange County’s charitable citizens to back AB448, which was introduced by Democratic Assemblymembers Tom Daly of Anaheim and Sharon Quirk-Silva of Fullerton; and is also co-authored by Republican state Sens. Pat Bates of Laguna Niguel and Janet Nguyen of Garden Grove. Compassion dictates that we pursue a vision for the entire county and act as one community for all of our residents.

John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, represents the 37th District in the California Senate.

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MOORLACH UPDATE — AB 448 — July 8, 2018

The editorial submissions continue to come. This time one, provided in the OC Register below, comes from my successor as Orange County Supervisor for the Second District, Michelle Steel. It reminds me of a famous phrase one of our predecessors, Harriett Wieder, used to say frequently, “Lead, follow, or get out of the way.”

I can still remember what a major initiative it was, when the Orange County Transportation Authority closed its Civic Center bus depot, to allow the homeless to use the restroom facilities. This was, sadly, a major undertaking.

I also remember serving as the inaugural Chair of the Orange County Commission to End Homelessness and what a major endeavor it was to build a coalition between the nonprofit providers, the County and the business community.

Working on improving the lot of the homeless is not an easy task. And, as Judge David O. Carter may be realizing, it is one that cannot be done overnight.

Nor is it a simple task, as the different concerns of the nonchronic and chronic homeless populations requires complex and varied remedies. No one has the magic formula.

But, you will be happy to know there is a core group that is diligently working to forge a solution. I have been working with the Association of California Cities – Orange County, the Orange County Hospital Association, numerous business leaders, the United Way-Orange County, and members of the California Legislative delegation. We are working together with a plan and have a vision to address the homelessness crisis in our county.

The Board of Supervisors, maybe not so much, if my honorable successor is to be believed.

In yesterday’s UPDATE, I mentioned that on occasion I will serve as a coauthor of bills written by my colleagues on the other side of the aisle. AB 448 is one of this year’s bills where I am working on a solution that is backed by this coalition of organizations to get something accomplished (see http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=201720180AB448). It is leading. Others should either follow or get out of the way.

Some clarifications, if I may. AB 448 is giving all of Orange County’s 34 cities a seat at the table to coordinate how existing funds for the homeless are spent.

The proposed housing trust will allow these cities to approach Sacramento as one coordinated voice to better obtain Orange County’s fair share of tax revenues. Remember, Orange County is the second highest producer of personal income taxes in California, behind Los Angeles County, which has more than triple our population.

Orange County has shown leadership in unifying in other critical areas, like the Orange County Transportation Authority, where all five Supervisorial Districts are represented equally. There are the Transportation Corridor Agencies, where impacted cities are represented. The Orange County Fire Authority comes to mind. And the Orange County Mosquito and Vector Control District, on whose board I served for some six years, has a board of 35 members, representing the 34 cities and the Board of Supervisors.

When we cooperate and focus on a project, Orange County leaders can accomplish great things. We have a proven track record.

The Orange County Grand Jury just released a report on Orange County’s homelessness situation last month, and it encourages a housing trust model (see http://www.ocgrandjury.org/pdfs/2017_2018_GJreport/2018-05-31_Homeles_Report.pdf). It’s title? “Where There is a Will, There is a Way — Housing Orange County’s Chronically Homeless.”

In the report’s conclusion it states the following:

While these are vital issues that need to be addressed, nothing can be accomplished without leadership and collaboration between the County and cities. During the investigation, the Grand Jury heard both sides level claims of “lack of political will.” However, while political will – or the lack thereof – is frequently and glibly used as an accusation, its explicit meaning is vague, making efforts at addressing the real, underlying problems difficult.

Even the 2017-2018 Grand Jury gets it.

The Orange County Housing Finance Trust, through AB 448, takes a conservative approach to the issue of homelessness. There are no new taxes. It has private sector involvement. It provides efficiencies in obtaining funding from Sacramento. And, it should free up our parks and public places for you and your families by assisting the homeless in obtaining the proper treatment to their conditions. I’m hoping this will be a model for other counties to follow.

Some of us are putting our shoulders to the plow. If Supervisor Wieder were here, she would probably say, “Either lead, follow, or get out of the way. But, for crying out loud, do something.” Together, we can.

OPINION

Orange County Housing Finance Trust unnecessary at best

By MICHELLE STEEL

https://www.ocregister.com/2018/07/07/orange-county-housing-finance-trust-unnecessary-at-best/

While many local leaders have stepped forward with the good intention of solving the homeless issue, some of the proposed solutions come with heavy consequences that would only make the problem worse. Your local state representatives have proposed legislation that will take away local control, and grow the size of government, to build large scale homeless and subsidized government housing in your backyard with your hard-earned dollars.

Assembly Bill 448, introduced by Assemblymembers Tom Daly, D-Anaheim, and Sharon Quirk-Silva, D-Fullerton, and co-authored by State Sen. Pat Bates, R-Laguna Niguel, John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, and Janet Nguyen, R-Garden Grove, authorizes the creation of the Orange County Housing Finance Trust, a new government agency that would fund housing for the homeless and low income in Orange County.

The governing members of this Orange County Housing Finance Trust would not only be made up of local city and county officials, but community “stakeholders” such as the developers working with local representatives on this bill who would benefit financially from such housing projects. The funding for such a large financial project would be taken from tax revenues.

Worst of all, AB 448 doesn’t actually do anything. Local governments already have the authority to make a Joint Powers Authority that would act as a housing trust, and to accept both private and public funds, without this additional new legislation. AB 448 is a public relations ploy that does nothing of substance except remove local control in favor of allowing those in Sacramento to call the shots.

Besides removing local control, this proposal increases the cost of market rate housing by designating land that could build more homes for government subsidized “affordable housing.” AB448 won’t make housing more affordable, it will create new government debt and a greater financial burden for the residents forced to pay for it.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 29 percent of Orange County Households are borderline poor — just over the poverty threshold. And 87 percent of residents are facing financial risk by purchasing our high-priced homes according to a survey by the National Association of Homebuilders. This bill will financially punish those individuals for trying to create a nice life for themselves by prioritizing housing in their budget.

Hardworking Orange County residents will now be forced to foot the bill for a new government agency in addition to already spending nearly $1 billion dollars on current government agencies designed to service low income and homeless individuals — including over $164 million on permanent and supportive housing alone.

We should be looking at both lasting and effective reforms that would benefit all of our residents instead of forcing one population to pay for another. We need to overhaul the California Environmental Quality Act and our current tax system to make it easier for individuals to find truly affordable housing.

Through the CEQA process, projects ranging from housing, parks, and even traffic reduction, are faced with paying thousands of dollars on complex studies, hearings, and then burdened with litigation costs that kill most projects before they’ve even begun. Even Gov. Brown has recognized this problem, but has only proposed streamlining for politically favored projects.

Assembly Bill 448 will not work to resolve the greater problem of the ridiculous costs of building a house in this state. In fact, it won’t do anything but approve an authority local governments already possess, and give control of the process to Sacramento. I would encourage all of our local leaders to work to effect real change in creating affordable housing for Californians instead of choosing a “solution” that would only grow government and saddle us with another financial burden we can’t afford.

Michelle Steel is a member of the Orange County Board of Supervisors.

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