Good news, everybody! Our affordable housing crisis is solved! According to the SLO County Board of Supervisors, unincorporated areas of the county no longer need the Inclusionary Housing Ordinance (IHO), which required developers to either build affordable housing units as part of their developments or pay county fees that would go to other affordable developments.
Clearly that means the problem is fixed, right? I mean, the IHO was the only source of local revenue for affordable housing in the county, so obviously the board wouldn't vote to discontinue it unless the county now has an ample supply of affordable housing. Right? Right?
I take back all the mean things I said about the board's conservative majority. Under their leadership, they managed to solve this tenacious and vexing housing problem! They're like geniuses or something! One question, though. Why is it that the last time Markets Insider checked, the publication said it would take 91.4 percent of the average wage to pay down a median-priced home in San Luis Obispo County? Forbes says we're the sixth least affordable place to live in the U.S.
Obviously these misinformed publications didn't get the memo that our amazing board of supervisors has decided that 8.6 percent of our average $30,500 salary was enough to live on, inflation be damned! That's $2,623 a year, or a cool $128.58 a month, to feed and clothe your family, pay all your bills, and ... and ... Really? You had one tool in your tool chest and you decided to throw it away?
You know who really wanted to get rid of the county's IHO? The Building Industry, surprise, surprise. Yeah, they'd prefer not to have to pay extra fees for other projects or build low-income housing themselves because it's not as profitable as McMansions. The fee was exempt for houses 2,200 square feet or less, so only larger houses had to pay, but builders can't make millions on those little hovels!
You know who else was against it? Government Affairs Director Mike Brown of the Coalition of Labor, Agriculture, and Business, who—let's face it—couldn't care less about labor aside from keeping labor costs down. In his organization's newsletter, he advocated for repeal, arguing that the ordinance didn't generate much revenue compared to the costs of the projects it helped build. The thing is, nonprofit builders used money from the fund to leverage other outside money such as grants to complete projects. Without the fund, there's nothing to leverage, and free money for affordable housing will go elsewhere.
Of course, that didn't stop 1st District Supervisor John Peschong from parroting Brown's talking points. Where exactly does Brown's hand go into Peschong's body to work this little ventriloquist act?
The conservative majority said they wanted more "broad-based" funding options for affordable housing, such as a bond or spending from the general fund, but come on, even "sure, let's spend it" liberal 2nd District Supervisor Bruce Gibson pointed out the county didn't have that much from the general fund, though they did manager to waste about $2 million in the last five years trying to deal with groundwater issues in the county. Priorities, priorities.
The city of SLO still has an IHO, and sure, you could argue it hasn't solved the affordable housing problem, but it's helped. Claiming it hasn't helped enough and "replacing" it with vague bond ideas is tantamount to throwing up your hands and saying, "Oh well, I hear cardboard boxes under overpasses are still in most people's budgets."
Even semi-liberal 3rd District Supervisor Dawn Ortiz-Legg joined the board's conservative majority in voting down the ordinance. WTF, Dawn? Are you simply ill-informed or jumping ship to the dark side? Or are you afraid of being the target of the SLO County GOP's smear campaign against all Democrats linked to disgraced former 3rd District Supervisor Adam Hill, who took bribes and later his own life?
The Tribune's editorial board was gobsmacked enough by SLO County Republican Central Committee member Erik Gorham's boasts on The Dave Congalton show to campaign pig-in-the-mud dirty that the paper wrote an editorial about it. Oh please, don't be so precious, Trib. Of course the Republicans will unfairly smear. It's not like they can win on their ideas.
"It's really a shame that we have to go this low," Gorham fake-whined to Congalton. Is it? Hm. After The Trib's editorial, Gorham scurried to pen his own "I know you are but what am I?" rebuttal, in which he does exactly what The Trib accuses Republicans of trying to do. Don't you love election season? It really brings out the ugly.
It's certainly on display down at the Oceano Community Services District that's trying to—again—pass a measure that would fund their portion of fire protection for the Five Cities area. The increased annual parcel tax needs a two-thirds majority to pass, and in 2020 it lost by 11 votes, so they're trying again.
Director Cynthia Replogle asked her fellow directors at their Jan. 26 meeting, "If this measure again fails, how much does it need to fail by for this board to respect the will of the voters?"
"I have no respect for Director Replogle, and I'm not even gonna answer that question," replied Director Linda Austin.
Oh, juicy! Strap in, voters, election season's here! Δ
The Shredder is practicing Transcendental Meditation. Send accolades and admonitions to email@example.com.