According to my research, it appears that the state is using erroneous data and methods to justify its inflated housing mandate which is ruining the opportunity to provide for low-income, senior and workforce housing.

As a former member of the Sausalito City Council who spent time on the Association of Bay Area Governments executive board and as the one-time president of the California Association of Mortgage Brokers, I would like to present several issues that prove the housing element is misguided.

We do not have a housing crisis, we have an affordability crisis. You can build as much housing as you want, but that doesn’t mean people can afford to buy or rent it. The California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) mandate for the Bay Area is 441,176 new units. Several sources, including the state auditor, have shown that this is very overstated.

The HCD mandates 57.4% of the units need to be subsidized. However, the housing element actually depends on developers. The developers depend on a project being sufficiently profitable. Developers are using a 15% to 20% range of subsidized units and 80% to 85% market-rate units to be feasible for them. This error on the part of the state should be a program-killer.

The state’s most egregious act is taking away communities’ local control. The Legislature has a history of pushing off expenses from their budget to local communities. The housing element is a perfect example of this wrongful and dangerous act.

Legislators should initiate housing solutions including using state-owned surplus properties. The state is exempt from paying property taxes on space it owns or leases. This is a huge cost advantage to making housing affordable. Without those costs, it might be possible that state properties can house 100% low-income, senior and workforce occupants instead of only 20%.

If structured as a purchase option, portions of rent could go for purchase credit. This is a positive “earn-out” approach for people who can’t afford to buy now.

— Leon Huntting, Sausalito



Leon Huntting writes from insider knowledge and experience: city mayor, time on the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) board, and former president of the California Association of Mortgage Brokers). He knows how the sausage is made when he comments on the state using erroneous data and unreliable methodology to establish unreachable housing mandates.