A bill by state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, to prohibit nonprofit affordable housing projects from being charged certain fees or back taxes passed out of the Senate Governance and Finance Committee on Thursday. The vote was 5-0.
Recognizing the need and public good behind affordable housing, California law exempts non-profit affordable housing developments from property taxes. But some local governments have required some affordable housing developments to agree to annual PILOT payments (payments in lieu of taxes), often equal to the amounts that would be required if they had been paying property taxes. Others have threatened to charge back taxes, often in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, risking the loss of existing affordable housing.
SB 1203 would prohibit PILOT agreements in the future, while leaving existing PILOT agreements in place. SB 1203 would also make it illegal to seek back taxes from affordable housing developments with existing PILOT agreements.
“In so many parts of our state, including in my district, we are facing an affordable housing crisis where housing costs are out of reach for far too many families. It is even threatening the ability of businesses to recruit workers, “ Jackson said. “We should be doing all we can to encourage affordable housing. This bill will clarify the law and make it abundantly clear that these PILOT agreements are illegal and aren’t consistent with our goal of encouraging affordable housing.”
The bill is supported by The Arc of Ventura County, the Cabrillo Economic Development Corporation, and the Western Center on Law and Poverty, among others.
Fred Robinson testified in support of the bill in committee on behalf of Harvard Place, an affordable housing development in Santa Paula where his son lives.
“Without affordable housing, my son would very likely be on the streets,” Robinson said. “This bill provides equity throughout the state and encourages non-profit housing corporations to develop these affordable housing projects.”
The bill now heads to the Senate floor.
Jackson represents the 19th Senate District, which includes all of Santa Barbara County and western Ventura County.
— Lisa Gardiner is the communications director for state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson.