Saturday, October 16, 2021

#289 / One Important "Fine Print" Item

A group of local activists is going to propose an initiative measure, to be effective within the City of Santa Cruz. If successful, the initiative will establish an "Empty Homes Tax." To be successful, the initiative measure must qualify for the ballot and then be enacted by the voters. If the initiative is successful, new funding will be generated for affordable housing. 
The activists proposing the Empty Homes Tax is having a launch party this afternoon (Saturday, October 16th, at 1:00 p.m. at Shanty Shack Brewing). 
If you are interested, you might want to attend! I am pretty sure that you're invited! There is also a website, with more information.  That is online right now. You can click this link to visit that website.

I have reviewed the text of the proposed initiative - filled with "legalese," as all legal enactments must necessarily be. Here is something I found in the "fine print" that makes me happy. It is the definition of "affordable housing." Monies raised by the "Empty Homes Tax" will be used for housing that meets the following criteria:
"Affordable housing" means housing intended to operate as affordable to low, very low, and extremely low incomes... in perpetuity....

All too often, what developers and city planners claim is "affordable" housing is housing that is not, in fact, directed to those most in need - individuals and families with low, very low, and extremely low incomes. In addition, all too often, the "affordable" housing that is given the planning go-ahead will be price-restricted, and thus "affordable," for only a relatively short time. Thirty years, for instance. That might sound like a "long time," but it speeds right by. It has been forty-three years, for instance, since the voters enacted Measure J, a countywide measure that requires that at least 15% of all new housing in unincorporated areas to be affordable to persons with average and below average incomes, with those housing units now required to be "permanently" price-restricted.

As you can see from the language in bold, quoted above, funds raised by the proposed Empty Homes Tax, to be used to support the production of affordable housing within the City of Santa Cruz, will be used for housing that will be price restricted to be affordable "in perpetuity." 

Those words, "in perpetuity," are the good news from the fine print. That's the way it ought to be!
Here is one shout out on behalf of this proposed initiative measure for getting this part of the "fine print" exactly right!
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