Bills that threaten coastal housing shelved for 2017

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A pair of bills that would hinder both the creation and protection of housing along California’s coastline are off the table for the remainder of 2017.

AB 663 by Assemblyman Richard Bloom, D-Santa Monica, would give the state’s Coastal Commission control of housing policies in coastal areas, stripping that power from local governments.

The other bill, AB 1129 by Assemblyman Mark Stone, D-Santa Cruz, would prevent many coastal property owners from reinforcing their buildings against rising sea levels and erosion.

Amid opposition from the California Apartment Association, the authors made their proposals “two-year” bills, meaning efforts to pass them are on hold for the rest of the year. The authors, however, can try again in 2018, the second half of the legislative cycle.

Assemblyman Richard Bloom

Bloom’s bill, AB 663, would undermine legislation passed in 1981 that shifted control of coastal housing policies from the Coastal Commission to local governments. During debate over the 1981 law, local governments and developers demonstrated numerous problems and inconsistencies with the housing policies of the Coastal Commission.

“With AB 663, the Coastal Commission will be granted the authority to implement its own policies such as rent control, negative inclusionary zoning laws, and downzoning restrictions that are harmful to housing production,” CAA and its allies say in a letter opposed to AB 663. “At the same time, we believe the Coastal Commission will impose unreasonable environmental restrictions that will delay housing production.”

Assemblyman Mark Stone

Stone’s bill, AB 1129, would leave the owners of many beach-front properties unable to protect their buildings from the ocean. The bill would prohibit the armoring of coastal buildings constructed after Jan. 1, 1977. It also would require any  measures performed in an emergency to be rendered temporary and subject to administrative penalties if a coastal development permit is not authorized after construction.

The bill was prompted by a suggestion in a Stanford Law School report that localized armoring can increase erosion for neighboring properties. A report from the U.S.  Geological Survey, however, says measures such as armoring will be necessary to protect infrastructure amid predictions that rising sea levels will destroy between 31 percent and 67 percent of Southern California beaches by 2100.

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