December 12, 2018

On November 28th on the UCB campus The Two Hundred+ held the second in our series of homeownership conferences for students.

The Two Hundred (The 200) has begun conducting workshops on university campuses as part of its community education and outreach program. The aim is to educate and recruit students to The 200 coalition from around the state as they are the future workforce that will carry the burden of funding the entitlements of retiring baby boomers.

Today’s housing policies, that prioritize rental housing over homeownership, will have a profound impact on their ability to build long-term wealth. We know that homeownership is at the core of today’s wealth gap and that crippling student debt creates a huge barrier that must be addressed.

Students are already experiencing the effects of failed housing policies in the form of homelessness at a rate of up to eleven percent (11%). See below.

Opinion: SJSU needs to solve homeless student crisis 

Student Homeless Alliance is working to bring creative solutions to an unacceptable problem

The life of a college student is normally filled with lectures, late-night study session and hours in the library doing research. It is not supposed to be filled with finding a place to park your car safely to sleep at night, couch surfing at a friend’s apartment, or living at a church that has opened its doors for homeless students.

Yet, this is the reality for too many students at San Jose State University. Even though the majority of SJSU students work 20-plus hours a week, many have a difficult time affording the basics, like housing, particularly when the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in San Jose is $2,460, and a studio apartment on campus is $1,700 a month. SJSU students, many of whom come from working class and low-income families, simply cannot afford this amount for rent. Incredibly, this has forced many students into homelessness.

As a result of this crisis, the California State University (CSU) Chancellor’s office recently commissioned a study, and what they found was shocking. Overall, at the 23 CSU campuses, 10.9 percent of the students have experienced homelessness within the last 12 months based on the U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Department of Education (DOE) definitions. As a result of the high cost of rent in Silicon Valley, SJSU experienced an even higher rate, with 13.2 percent of its students experiencing homelessness in the past year. With a student population of 33,000, this means that over 4,000 SJSU students have experienced homeless within the past year. Clearly, this is totally unacceptable, and deserves a response by President Mary Papazian and her administration, as well as city and county leaders.

To encourage this response, the Student Homeless Alliance (SHA) has formed with the mission to raise awareness on the problem of SJSU student homelessness, and to develop creative solutions, while promoting both social and academic success. To this end, SHA has put forth the following demands, which have been presented to President Papazian:
* A minimum of 12 beds in the dorms to remain open for homeless students to stay up to 60 days, along with the provision of a one-time $2,000 immediate grant for students to find housing.
* Ten to 15 parking spots – an increase from the originally promised five to seven – in the 7th Street Parking Garage for safe parking, and which has yet to be enacted.
*  A resource list of homelessness and hunger provided to all students at their Transfer/Freshman Orientation, as well as clear and direct workable links for “Food and Housing Security” under the ‘Current Students’ tab on the SJSU website.

Surely, there is more to be done to respond to this crisis than the above demands, but this is a start. SHA is committed to making sure that every SJSU student has a safe place to sleep, and it is our hope that President Papazian will collaborate with us to solve this crisis. After all it is the school’s mission to meet everyone’s academic success and by not addressing student homelessness, we are doing everyone a disservice.

To bring attention to these demands, SHA will hold a news conference at the Smith and Carlos Statues at noon on Thursday, and will be sleeping later that night to be in solidarity with our homeless students.

It’s simply unacceptable that 13.2 percent of SJSU students have experienced homelessness in the past year. Now is the time to solve this crisis.

Mayra Bernabe is a member of the San Jose State University class of 2019, is president of the Student Homeless Alliance. Scott Myers-Lipton, is a professor of sociology at San Jose State University and is faculty advisor to the Student Homeless Alliance.

John Gamboa
California Community Builders

November 30, 2018

Word is getting out about CARB’s scoping plan

The Two Hundred’s law suit against CARB, at its core, is about highly paid environmental bureaucrats unable and/or unwilling to account for the impact climate policies have on workers and lower-income populations. It is relatively easy to quantify carbon emissions, vehicle miles traveled and gas prices. However, the human cost – the psychological misery of stress and uncertainty – that rising costs places on families living on the margins is lost on self-righteous bureaucrats. The challenge is to creatively and equitably spread the burden of reducing carbon emissions to ALL Californians – not to disproportionately place that burden on those least able to defend themselves. Ironically, CARB has ignored legislative directives to minimize that pain.

Most workers who commute drive because of failed short sighted housing policies that force them to seek affordable housing. Senator Wiener has just announced that over the last 10 years one million Californians have left the state because of housing costs. Those that have left are disproportionately millennials and people of color. Is this selective gentrification?

Read more:

CARB’s bait-and-switch on climate change

When California’s signature climate change program was nearing its expiration date, there was serious debate about whether to extend it. This program, called cap-and-trade, reduces carbon emissions but it also increases the costs of gas, electricity, and numerous other necessities. That’s a significant problem in a state known for high taxes, onerous regulations, and the worst small business climate in the country.Fortunately, our elected representatives were able to work across party lines to craft reforms that would contain costs. With these safeguards in place, the Legislature voted last year to extend the life of cap-and-trade for another decade. This bipartisan legislation, AB 398, proves California can cost-effectively shrink our carbon footprint without shrinking our state’s economy ……..

November 13, 2018

California superior court allows The Two Hundred’s racial discrimination lawsuit to proceed.

Inside Cal/EPA
Court Accepts Most Claims In Housing Equity Suit Over ARB GHG Rules

November 01, 2018 A California superior court is accepting most of the claims in a lawsuit alleging that the state air board’s greenhouse gas regulatory “scoping plan” is racially discriminatory by increasing costs and litigation risks for new affordable housing development, according to a ruling on the board’s “demurrer” that seeks to dismiss the allegations.

However, the judge is expressing initial doubts that several key claims will prevail on their merits but is nonetheless allowing the plaintiffs to amend the allegations based on arguments made by their lawyer during an Oct. 26 hearing.For example, regarding claims that the California Air Resources Board (ARB) violated the federal Fair Housing Act (FHA) and California’s Fair Employment & Housing Act (FEHA), the court finds that these issues “are not yet ripe for adjudication, and it will sustain the demurrer to those claims for failure to state facts sufficient to constitute a cause of action,” states an Oct. 26 ruling in The Two Hundred v. ARB by Fresno County Superior Court Judge Jane Cardoza. The ruling is available on (Doc. ID: 216491)But Cardoza then says that she is allowing the plaintiff group “leave to amend” its claims related to the housing laws based on arguments by its attorney — Holland & Knight’s Jennifer Hernandez — during the Oct. 26 hearing on the demurrer that there are new facts “showing the existence of a present, existing or imminent controversy.”

Hernandez tells Inside Cal/EPA that Cardoza’s ruling is a “win for us — she’s allowing us to amend [the] complaint for three claims she had dismissed without leave to amend in her tentative [ruling], and denied all [ARB] efforts to dismiss claims that we contested. We can now start discovery and litigate on merits.”An ARB spokesman declined to comment.

The novel lawsuit charges that some of the GHG regulatory measures contained in the state’s 2017 scoping plan make housing more expensive, worsen congestion and hike fuel and electricity costs, resulting in racially disparate impacts (Inside Cal/EPA, May 25).

The Two Hundred alleges that the new GHG housing measures will “actually and predictably” have a disparate negative impact on minority communities and are discriminatory against minority communities and their members; that ARB’s policy to reduce vehicle miles traveled (VMT) will disproportionately affect minorities by increasing congestion and commute times; that a “net zero” GHG policy will make housing less affordable for minorities by increasing litigation risks; that per capita GHG targets for local climate action plans are unlawful and would cause the loss of middle- and low-income jobs that will have a disparate impact on minorities; and that ARB’s “Vibrant Communities” policies that incorporate the first three policies are also unlawful.Another key claim that Cardoza is expressing doubt about but is allowing The Two Hundred to amend is that the scoping plan violates the equal protection clauses of the California and United States constitutions. ARB argues that the plaintiffs have not adequately alleged facts showing that the board had any discriminatory intent when it adopted the scoping plan.

Cardoza states that The Two Hundred has not claimed that ARB intended to discriminate against minorities in adopting the scoping plan, but merely alleges that the plan will have the effect of making new housing less affordable and accessible to minorities.”Thus, at this time plaintiffs have failed to allege even the basic element of intent to discriminate, and as a result the court will sustain the demurrer to the fourth cause of action,” the ruling states. However, the court will “grant leave to amend, as it is possible that plaintiffs can allege that the [ARB] acted intentionally to discriminate against racial minorities when it adopted the Plan.”The judge notes that it is “rarely possible to offer direct evidence of discriminatory intent,” and that “since this case is still in its early stages, it would not be reasonable to expect plaintiffs to be able to cite to specific evidence in their complaint, whether direct or circumstantial, that the [ARB] intended to discriminate against racial minorities when it adopted the Scoping Plan.”Cardoza also expresses doubts about the merits of two other claims by the plaintiffs alleging violations of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) when ARB adopted the scoping plan, but nonetheless is also allowing the group to amend those items.

ARB contends that The Two Hundred has not stated, and cannot state, a valid claim for APA violations because the scoping plan is not a “regulation” under the definition set forth in the APA, as it does not contain any binding rules or procedures and only sets forth optional recommendations to reduce GHG emissions, Cardoza explains.

The judge cites a recent California Supreme Court ruling that backs up ARB’s arguments, adding that “it does not appear that plaintiffs have stated any claims for violation of the APA based on the adoption of the new Scoping Plan. If the Scoping Plan is not a ‘regulation’ for purposes of the APA, then it follows that the [ARB] was not required to follow the APA’s procedures to adopt the Plan, and their alleged failure to do so does not constitute the basis for a cause of action.”

But despite that comment, Cardoza “grants leave to amend the causes of action based on plaintiffs’ counsel’s representation at the [Oct. 26] hearing that plaintiffs can allege more facts to cure the defect,” the ruling states.

Accepted Claims

Meanwhile, Cardoza is accepting several key claims in the case, including the allegation that the scoping plan violates the substantive due process clauses of the California and United States constitutions.The Two Hundred argues that the scoping plan is not “rationally related to the legitimate goal of reducing GHG emissions, and thus violates the due process clause,” and that the plan “arbitrarily discriminates against minorities by denying them affordable housing and forcing them to endure longer commutes, among other things,” the ruling says.”

Thus, plaintiffs allege that the Plan denies them their fundamental right to housing free from racially disparate impacts. The court must assume the truth of the properly pled allegations of the complaint. As a result, plaintiffs have sufficiently alleged their due process claim, and the court intends to overrule the demurrer to the third cause of action.”

Cardoza adds that while ARB argues that there is no constitutionally protected right to housing free of discrimination and thus plaintiffs have not stated a valid due process claim, “the court notes that it is well-established that there is a constitutional right to be free of discrimination based on race. . . . Here, it appears that plaintiffs are alleging that the Scoping Plan would effectively discriminate against them based on their status as racial minorities by denying them access to affordable housing, which is sufficient to support their due process claim.”

The judge is also accepting The Two Hundred’s claim that ARB’s scoping plan violated the Health & Safety Code and the California Clean Air Act.The plaintiffs allege that the plan proposes to intentionally increase congestion and that strategies in the plan to reduce VMT will actually result in more congestion by limiting construction of new roads and traffic lanes, resulting in increases of various air pollutants. This would violate ARB’s statutory duty to ensure that every reasonable action is taken to achieve attainment of state clean air standards, the plaintiffs claim.”

Thus, plaintiffs have sufficiently alleged that [ARB] has violated the Clean Air Act by adopting the Scoping Plan,” the ruling states. “The issue of whether plaintiffs’ interpretation of the Scoping Plan’s effect on emissions is true and correct cannot be resolved on demurrer, and must be determined at a later time.”Cardoza is also accepting The Two Hundred’s claim that ARB’s adoption of the scoping plan constituted an ultra vires action based on the argument that certain provisions of the plan go beyond the board’s authority.ARB contended that the ultra vires allegation should be dismissed because the scoping plan contains non-binding measures and recommendations.

However, the plaintiffs charge that the scoping plan includes requirements that are beyond ARB’s statutory authority, including the “net zero” GHG threshold, the 2050 GHG emission reduction goal, the VMT reduction requirements, and “net zero” new house building standards.”

While much of the language in the Scoping Plan appears to support the [ARB’s] interpretation that the Plan only sets forth non-binding advice and recommendations for reducing GHG emissions, there is also some language that seems to support plaintiffs’ position,” Cardoza finds.

For example, the plan states that the California Supreme Court recognized that GHG determinations in California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) reviews should be consistent with the statewide scoping plan goals, and that CEQA documents taking a goal-consistency approach may soon need to consider a project’s effects on meeting the state’s longer term post-2020 goals, the ruling notes.”

This language seems to imply that the Plan’s goals may be more than simply recommendations, and may constitute mandatory standards,” Cardoza concludes. “Thus, the court finds that plaintiffs have adequately alleged their eleventh cause of action and therefore the court overrules the demurrer to that claim.”

November 9, 2018

Where do we go from here?

Proposition 10, a well-intended but flawed rent control effort, failed at the polls. This provides Californians an opportunity to not only address the high cost of rent but also homes for purchase in a more strategic way. We need solutions that makes neither renters nor landlords losers. Kamala Harris’s renter relief plan is a short-term solution however it does not address the fundamental problem of lack of housing stock. It could provide a bridge or life raft to renters as longer-range efforts take hold. Elizabeth Warren’s American Housing and Economic Mobility Actis a much more comprehensive plan that acknowledges our government’s role in promoting segregation and discrimination through past housing policies like relining.
Most Americans are oblivious to the legacy or impact that redlining has on current generations of people of color in terms of health, the racial wealth gap and the ability to own a home.

Our current housing crisis will require public/private solutions at both the Federal and local level. Let’s not forget that this problem has historical roots and will require a sustained effort to resolve.

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