By Laura FRIEDMAN
Sunday evening, with the stroke of his pen, Governor Gavin Newsom put the final close on the 2019 Legislative Session by either signing or vetoing the remaining bills that sat on his desk. With the deadline now behind us, I would like to take a moment to fill you in on some of the highlights from this year.
I am happy to report eleven of my bills have become law.
As I previously mentioned in the CV Weekly, this year I put forward a legislative package aimed at providing solutions towards our state’s greatest crisis: the housing affordability and homelessness crisis. I supported and coauthored several important housing measures, helped secure increased funding for homelessness across the state, and was the author of three bills which were signed into law: AB 587, AB 670, and AB 671. These three pieces of legislation will cut red tape and help homeowners and affordable housing organizations utilize accessory dwelling units (ADUs or ‘granny flats’) as tools for adding more housing, especially affordable units, in the least intrusive way possible for communities.
These bills received strong, bipartisan support, and had hardly any opposition in Sacramento – a rarity for sure. While these measures are not a silver bullet that will end the housing crisis, they will certainly help by removing barriers which were blocking property owners from constructing ADUs, by providing local incentives for the development of ADUs used as units for low-income people, and to remove state limitations that have previously prohibited affordable housing organizations, such as Habitat for Humanity, from using ADUs to create affordable home ownership.
In order to help bring more affordable housing to our region, I also proposed AB 1560, which was signed into law. This measure coauthored by Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel, changes definitions in the law to encourage the development of affordable housing near Metro’s Orange Line in the San Fernando Valley – one of the heaviest traveled public transit corridors in all of Los Angeles County.
While housing was a huge focus for me so too were other issues affecting us here in the district. When I was appointed Chair of Assembly Natural Resources, one of the first major issues I began to take a deeper dive into was wildfire prevention. This year I put forward two pieces of legislation to help communities become safer and more resilient in the event of a wildfire. Unfortunately, one of those bills, AB 1516, which would have created a new defensible space requirement around structures in communities at the greatest risk of wildfire, and which would have tasked Calfire with updating fire maps and increasing inspections in high-hazard areas, was vetoed because of cost concerns. However, my AB 1144, which will provide funding to incentivize battery storage in communities that are at significant risk of wildfire in order to ensure grid resiliency in times of disaster, became law.
Finally, as you may have heard my AB 44 was also signed by the Governor. This bill will end the manufacture and sale of new fur products in California starting in 2023. While I understand not everyone agrees with this approach, I think it is important to know that this was yet another bill that had bipartisan support. It received overwhelming support in the legislature, largely because it is in line with the values Californians have expressed repeatedly at the ballot box on other animal welfare issues. With its signing, California has made history by becoming the first state in the nation to end this cruel and outdated industry.
As in every year, not everything I proposed or voted on was without controversy. And Sacramento, like Washington, has some partisan divides. However, I am impressed with what my office was able to achieve working with people from all sides of issues, including members from across the aisle, to find what works best for all Californians. We were able to work collaboratively, to listen, and to grow in how we approach the complex challenges facing the state. This is a method and practice I look forward to continuing when we return for the 2020 Legislative Session.
Until then, I want to know what you think about this year’s work in Sacramento. Do you have legislative proposals and suggestions for the upcoming session? I always appreciate hearing your thoughts and our discussions. Please continue to reach out to my office with your questions, proposals, concerns, or regarding anything else. Thank you for allowing me this opportunity to serve you.