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California Mayors Issue Support for Affordable Housing and High Road Jobs Act (AB 2011)

Mayors statewide laud bill’s ability to expand climate-friendly affordable housing opportunities, while also growing a thriving, well-paid construction workforce

For immediate release:
  • Erin Ivie
  • Director of Communications, Office of Assemblymember Buffy Wicks
  • 510-619-8495

SACRAMENTO — On the heels of growing support from California Labor Unions, city Mayors across California are stepping forward to declare their support for AB 2011 – The Affordable Housing and High Road Jobs Act. AB 2011 will open new sites to affordable housing with the potential to produce millions of units, while creating strong labor protections that ensure all workers on these jobs earn high wages and health benefits

The bill pairs new opportunities to build 100% affordable housing and mixed-income housing on underutilized commercial sites with requirements that developers meet a range of responsible wage and training standards:

  • Prevailing wage is required on all projects. 
  • For projects of 50 or more units, contractors must either participate in a state-approved apprenticeship program or request the dispatch of apprentices from a program and provide health benefits for their workers. If no apprentice workers are available, the project can still move forward. 
  • The bill also includes new enforcement mechanisms to ensure these wage and benefits standards are being met.

“Addressing our housing crisis means using every tool in our toolbox. Streamlining housing approvals in commercial zones, which Los Angeles has championed, is a common sense approach,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. “This bill will help L.A. build over 450,000 new housing units through our ambitious housing element update. I strongly urge the Legislature to pass Asm. Wicks’ legislation without delay.”

“I am in favor of all strategies which both make it easier to build desperately needed housing in California, and pay working men and women higher wages and benefits,” said Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg. “Just as I strongly support project labor agreements, I strongly support Buffy Wicks’ courageous effort to change the conversation in the Legislature and get more done. I hope all the labor and building partners get to the table and make this the breakthrough year for California.”

With thousands of underutilized commercial sites across California, one recent analysis found the potential for building three million units of affordable housing in the Bay Area and Los Angeles County alone. The bill also includes new homeownership opportunities for middle-income Californians, while promoting climate-friendly affordable development on sites close to jobs and transit.

“Oakland and California need more housing, and especially affordable housing,” said Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf. “Asm. Wicks’ proposal strips away the red tape and delays so we can help end housing insecurity and homelessness, and ensure a brighter future for all Californians.”

Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer agreed: “​​Fresno, like most California cities, is experiencing an affordable housing crisis. This bill provides an innovative way to expedite affordable housing without government overreach by making it strictly voluntary for builders. It also ensures our valuable construction workers are receiving a livable wage and healthcare benefits. A win-win for all.”

In addition to the Big City Mayors, a range of other California cities – large and small – have come forward in support of AB 2011. In their official letters of support, the Mayors lauded AB 2011’s ability to expand climate-friendly infill affordable housing opportunities for struggling families, seniors, workers, and veterans, while also growing a thriving, well-paid, middle-class construction workforce. They praised AB 2011 for “striking the right balance,” giving builders access to new sites for housing development, while also providing high wages and health care benefits to the construction workforce we need. 

“AB 2011 is essential to cities’ ability to achieve their housing goals, allowing affordable housing to be built quickly without delays created by opposition,” said Emeryville Mayor John Bauters. “The bill will provide all of the economic benefits that come with new housing — including tens of thousands of well-paying jobs and more local revenue — all without changing the density of today’s residential areas. Cities across California need this kind of housing tool in their toolbox.”

Other reactions and commendations from California Mayors included: 

  • Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin: "In built-out cities, our options are limited as to where to build new housing. AB 2011 will expand our options for where to build much-needed housing, allowing homes to be built by-right in infill areas now zoned for office, retail, and parking uses.
  • Napa Mayor Scott Sedgley: “The City of Napa is a charter city with a population of approximately 79,000 residents. Our housing market is extremely tight, and rents continue to climb. New strategies are needed. AB 2011 is a major step in the right direction.”
  • San Mateo Mayor Rick Bonilla: "I see AB 2011 as a thorough, inclusive and equitable remedy for housing production needs, which will enable us to meet our RHNA goals and grow the workforce necessary while creating the ability to produce the housing needed within our community.”
  • Vacaville Mayor Ron Rowlett: “By opening new sites to housing, AB 2011 would rapidly accelerate housing production, particularly for low-income Californians. Building would be in commercial zones—preserving the density & character of existing residential neighborhoods."
  • Seaside Mayor Ian Oglesby: "AB 2011 strikes the right balance, opening up sites for affordable housing, while also providing high wages and benefits to workers. And these sites would be infill locations— helping reduce greenhouse gas emissions to meet our climate goals."

After years of legislative gridlock over housing workforce issues, AB 2011’s housing provisions and strong labor protections are the first to be endorsed by both affordable housing and labor groups. The bill is co-sponsored by the California Housing Consortium, a statewide coalition of affordable housing providers, and the California Conference of Carpenters, representing more than 82,000 union carpenters across the state.

For more information:

  • A fact sheet on AB 2011 is available here.
  • A Sacramento Bee editorial on the bill is here.
  • A San Jose Mercury News op-ed by the co-sponsors is here.
  • A Los Angeles Daily News op-ed from the Executive Director of the California Community Economic Development Association (CCEDA) is here.

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