California Realtor Group Won’t Fight Affordable Housing Measure — for a Price – KQED

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Last year, Davis Democratic Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry pushed through the proposed amendment to the state constitution (PDF) that would lower the electoral bar that local infrastructure and housing bonds need to clear. Currently, that threshold sits at a heightened two-thirds majority of voters. Aguiar-Curry’s proposal, which had failed to get out of the Legislature three times until last session, would bring that figure down to a more attainable 55%.

Though the amendment passed last year, it left some implementation questions unanswered. Two bills — ACA 10 and AB 2813 — were introduced to do that tweaking. That set off a fresh months-long round of negotiations.

After winning an exemption for single-family home, duplex, triplex and fourplex purchases, the California Association of Realtors announced that it would no longer oppose the legislation — and by implication, the Nov. 5 ballot measure.

“Over the course of several months, the author, her staff and stakeholders were able to reach an agreement that satisfies the concerns C.A.R. raised. C.A.R. would like to thank the author for her leadership and steadfast commitment to ensuring that homeownership can become a reality for generations of Californians,” the organization’s lobbyist Vanessa Chavez said in a letter obtained by CalMatters.

The association did not respond to a request for comment late today.

The ballot measure would still allow local bond issues to provide funds for the construction of smaller affordable units. The ban applies to purchasing existing homes — notably, one of the ways that Realtors make money.

The neutrality of the Realtors — regularly among the biggest campaign spenders in California — is a political win for backers of the initiative. (It is still opposed by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, which issued a statement saying it will fight it “with all our strength.”)

But many of the supporters of the constitutional amendment aren’t pleased about the last-minute agreement. Earlier this week, a coalition of tenant rights groups, “Yes in My Backyard” advocates and legal aid associations penned a letter urging Aguiar-Curry not to accept the Realtors deal, saying that it would “enshrine a discriminatory housing policy in state law.”

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