No surprises

We’ve been following the closed-door negotiations between Sacramento County and the North State Building Industry Association, aimed at making changes to the county’s aggressive affordable-housing policies.

For weeks, housing advocates have complained that they’ve been left out of the negotiations and feared a “backroom deal” was being cut. Now the county has released the proposed new rules in preparation for an August 8 vote by the Sacramento Board of Supervisors.

“It’s about what you’d expect,” said Joan Burke with the Sacramento Housing Alliance, one of the main defenders of the existing laws that require developers to build housing for “extremely low income” residents and other low-income groups in order to get permission for their market-rate projects.

Burke said the new rules hammered out by developers and county officials shift the costs of implementing the program away from developers and on to the county. She said the ordinance also makes it easier for developers to segregate low-income housing from their more lucrative projects.

The affordable-housing ordinance was crafted in nearly two years of public workshops and hearings, while the new changes to the housing law were made largely out of the public eye—as part of a legal settlement between the BIA and the county after the builders association sued to block the rules.

“This is what you get when there’s just one side at the table, when you only talk to rich people. We need a do-over and we need a fair and open process,” Burke said.

The SHA has been gathering signatures in support of the rules and expects to bring a big crowd to oppose the changes on August 8. For more information, go to