State VMT law keeps builders away and makes homes more expensive, Valley lawmakers say – GV Wire

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State Senator Anna Caballero D-Salinas says state shouldn’t scare away from home builders, but she’s worried that a new state law will do just that.

“The last thing we need right now is to reduce the number of communities we are building. We have 2.5 million homes overdue, ”Caballero said. “If you built 2.5 million units, you would have families tomorrow.

“The last thing we need right now is to reduce the number of communities we are building. “State Senator Anna Caballero

But, that’s exactly what a trade group says is happening.

The California Building Industry Association accuses a new state law implementing vehicle miles as an environmental measure for housing construction, to have curbed construction statewide.

“WWe call it the big pause button, ”says Dan Dunmoyer, CEO of the group. He says the law is so complex that most places in the state don’t even know how to implement it, which keeps builders on the sidelines.

According to the latest report from the California Association of Realtors, the statewide median home price in January was $ 699,890, down 2.5% from December, but up 21.7% from compared to January 2020. “Median prices for all major regions continued to increase in double digits on a year-over-year basis,” the report says.

“We can build houses. These are just homes for millionaires, ”says Dunmoyer.

“We absolutely have to take another look (VMT),” says Caballero.

Since last July, new development projects are no longer billed according to the traffic congestion created. Instead, a VMT calculation will be applied.

For example, if a person goes to several places per day – work, store, soccer practice, etc. – all these kilometers are counted. Then a fee is calculated for the development, with the funds used to subsidize things like vans, transit passes, and bike paths. The aim of the law is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from cars.

Caballero says climate change is something that absolutely needs to be addressed, but she isn’t sure VMT is the best way to go about it. Caballero spearheaded an unsuccessful attempt last year to delay implementation of the law. A total of 20 state senators and members of the assembly signed his letter to the governor.

“I think we have to put an end to it,” Caballero said. “Take a look and decide what we’re going to do to encourage housing construction, not discourage it.

California Building Industry Association

“We call it the big pause button.”Dan Dunmoyer, California Building Association

CBIS said the governor’s Office of Planning and Research ignored organizations, municipalities and local governments last year that called for the VMT law to be delayed until the COVID-pandemic 19 passed.

The supervisory boards of Fresno, Kings, Tulare, Kern, Madera and Merced all unanimously passed resolutions calling for a two-year postponement of the law.

The CBIA says the OPR is now asking its association to give an assessment of how things are going.

“It’s their job,” says Dunmoyer. “They are supposed to figure out how we plan our cities and communities and they should know how it works.

Dunmoyer says since Newsom has been governor, the state has had a declining license revocation process in the state of California.

In his first year as governor, home construction actually fell for the first time in a decade, according to a new report released in early February by the Construction Industry Research Board.

Despite a sharp increase in the last two months of 2019, the year ended with 110,218 new housing starts, the CIRB said, down 7% from 2018.

“I look forward to working with my colleagues to assess this regulation and the improvements we can make to it so that the State of California can start producing homes again.”Assembly Member Dr. Joaquin Arambula, D-Fresno

Dunmoyer says OPR is now discussing sending strike teams to help municipalities and builders try to figure out how to handle this new regulation. Dunmoyer says OPR is talking to him at least more now, but all the players who could really help make things better are related.

“But frankly, I mean, with all due respect to the governor, his office is really busy with this thing called COVID,” Dunmoyer said. “Tthat’s the other irony here. The postponement request made perfect sense, given our goal as a society and the return to normalcy. And yet, regulations advance on July 1 of last year, even though the pandemic is at its worst. “

One size does not fit all

Assembly Member Dr Joaquin Arambula, D-Fresno, agrees with Caballero that VMT is problematic. He fears that an “unelected council”, namely the California Air Resources Board, is shaping policies for communities in the Central Valley.

“Not understanding where we live and where we come from is problematic,” said Arambula. He says this is another example of “one size fits all that doesn’t fit all”.

Arambula says he is interested in working with colleagues like Caballero this next legislative session to see what can be done to improve VMT.

“I look forward to working with my colleagues to assess this regulation and the improvements we can make to it so that the state of California can start producing homes again,” said Arambula.

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