SACRAMENTO — Each bill cleared one house of the Legislature, then triggered searing soul-searching sessions about how to house struggling lower-wage workers and ease financial disparities between older cities and newer suburbs.
But legislation designed to address both issues — finding affordable housing and reducing the sprawl of retail areas — ground down amid political pressures and cities reluctant to change.
Experts say the demise of both bills reveals again how distrust between state and local governments blocks solutions at the troubled edges of California’s growth. In a state desperately short on housing and often seeing stores close in older neighborhoods only to reopen in newer ones a few miles away, balking cities downed both bills, fearful of heightened state power over their affairs.
“Coming up with a different system that doesn’t make anybody demonstrably worse off is difficult and may be an impossible task,” said Paul Lewis, a government affairs specialist at the Public Policy Institute of California.
The newest casualty of mutual state-local mistrust is SB910, which proposed the state levy stiff fines on an estimated 30 percent of California cities that shirk their share of affordable housing.