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Sacramento Report: Coastal Height Limit Might Not Be on the Chopping Block After All

Sen. Nancy Skinner is trying to calm coastal San Diegans’ nerves. Plus: Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez gets a big (but temporary) win on diapers.

A home in La Jolla / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

Many San Diegans collectively freaked out when it appeared that a bill moving through the state Legislature, SB 330, would wipe out the coastal height limit to make way for denser, taller buildings.

Though the purpose of the bill is to beat back many of the local restrictions that block new housing projects, its author made clear this week that the measure won’t kill San Diego’s coastal height limit.

Sen. Nancy Skinner added this revision:

 (2) This section shall not be construed to void a height limit, urban growth boundary, or urban limit established by the electorate of an affected county or an affected city on or before January 1, 2018.

“I have amended SB 330 to clear up a misconception that the bill would impact coastal height limits,” Skinner wrote in a statement to VOSD. “The legislation was never intended to eliminate height limits in San Diego or anywhere else in California. The new amendment makes that crystal clear.”

The bill would block certain cities and regions from imposing new parking requirements on developments and other rules that might hamper development. It also creates new rules intended to speed up the permitting process for new developments.

Before Skinner’s clarification was added to the bill, the La Jolla Community Planning Association met to voice disapproval of SB 330 and another measure intended to spur more development, SB 50.

The La Jolla Light reports that a representative for Councilwoman Barbara Bry, who’s running for mayor, told residents at the meeting that Bry is “against SB 330 and SB 50.”

Encinitas, which for years has stood in violation of state housing laws, unsurprisingly opposes both bills as well. Mayor Catherine Blakespear said that the measures “go too far in their attempt to spur affordable housing development at the expense of community character and local control,” reports the Coast News.

Gonzalez Gets a Big – But Temporary – Win on Diapers

In 2014, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez wrote a bill that would have subsidized diapers for qualifying poor families. It died in committee.

In 2015, Gonzalez wrote a bill to end sales taxes on diapers. In 2016, Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed it.

In 2017, Gonzalez wrote a bill making diaper subsidies available to single mothers enrolled in CalWORKS. It passed. So did a resolution the same year written by Gonzalez honoring Diaper Need Awareness Week.

In 2018, Gonzalez again introduced a bill to exempt diapers from California’s sales tax. That measure is still alive in the state Legislature, but this week, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced he would eliminate sales taxes for diapers and tampons – another goal championed by Assemblywoman Christina Garcia for years – as part of his state budget revision.

It’s a major victory for Gonzalez and Garcia, albeit a possibly temporary one. Newsom suggested earlier in the week that the exemption would last five years; his official proposal unveiled Thursday only lasts two years.

“My hope is that we continue to advocate for this in a permanent kind of way,” Gonzalez said. “I’m super excited, and it’s a great start. But I don’t think anybody believes two years of relief is all we need.”

There are two immediate routes to making that happen: Newsom must still come to an agreement with state legislators over the details in the budget, so he could be persuaded to make the change permanent. Or, Gonzalez could continue to push AB 66, her bill to permanently exempt diapers from sales taxes. (Newsom, of course, would then have to sign the bill.)

Even if the sales tax exemption becomes permanent, Gonzalez said there’s still more to do to ensure families can afford diapers.

She wants to boost public-private partnerships to help create and expand diaper banks. That could involve providing startup money to get a diaper bank off the ground, or funds to help expand existing programs.

And while Newsom clearly has a different approach to diaper affordability than Brown did, Gonzalez said she believes many people’s views on the issue are changing.

Back in 2014, when she wrote her first bill addressing diaper affordability, the measure spurred so much vitriol that her haters became a story of their own.

At that time, Gonzalez said the offensive comments reacting to the bill were the worst she’d ever seen.

Now, she said, people seem to get it.

“It really has shifted. And that was why the conversation was so important. When we first started talking about it, we got a lot of opposition, hatred, and also confusion: ‘Why are you so obsessed with this?’ And I think that’s one thing we’ve done in California is move the discussion.”

Golden State News

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