California voters set to reject easing of developer fees

Ballot measure in Prop 13 would have wiped out fee on multifamily units

Voters look set to reject California’s Prop 13
Voters look set to reject California’s Prop 13

Another day, another defeat for incentivising multifamily apartment developments in California.

Voters who went to the polls Tuesday look poised to reject Proposition 13, a bond measure about school funding but one that also includes a provision to wipe out one-time fees for developers who build multifamily apartments near transit stops.

The measure had 55.9 percent “no” votes and 44.1 percent “yes” votes as of this morning, according to the California Secretary of State’s office, with all the state’s precincts reporting but ballot counts ongoing.

The Los Angeles Times reports that Prop 13 actually has a majority “yes” votes so far in Los Angeles County, which would be one of the area’s most affected by the measure’s developer component.

Written by Patrick O’Donnell, a Long Beach Democrat and state assembly member, Prop 13 has nothing to do with the famous anti-tax measure California voters passed in 1978 that freezes all commercial and residential property taxes at one percent yearly increases unless the parcel changes hands.

Instead, Prop 13 proposed that the state of California borrow $15 billion from the bond market, and use that money to improve school facilities including elementary schools, high schools, community colleges, and four-year universities. The state fiscal analyst’s office anticipated that paying back lenders with interest would cost taxpayers $26 billion.

Also part of Part 13 was a clause that school districts “would be prohibited from assessing developer fees on multifamily residential developments (such as apartment complexes) located within a half-mile of a major transit stop (such as a light rail station).”

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The measure would additionally reduce fees for all multifamily residential developments by 20 percent.

According to the legislative analyst’s office, 90 percent of all California school districts used these fees at least once since 2002, and the fees generated $10 billion toward state schools in that time.

Prop 13’s likely defeat comes one month after state legislators narrowly rejected Senate Bill 50, a landmark attempt to allow multifamily apartments near transit stops even in instances where those developments don’t conform with city zoning laws.

It also comes amid heated debate on the federal, state, and local level on how to address California’s housing shortage and homelessness epidemic.

Housing and homelessness took centerstage in the race for an open seat on the powerful five-person Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, which dictates the budget of county housing services among other powers.

Herb Wesson, the outgoing Los Angeles City Council president, and State Sen. Holly Mitchell look headed for a run-off in that race, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Wesson’s housing track record includes a push for affordable housing units in all forthcoming L.A. developments. Mitchell’s record includes opposition to SB 50.