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Deukmejian Unveils His Package of Housing Bills

March 27, 1988|LEO C. WOLINSKY | Times Staff Writer

SACRAMENTO — Gov. George Deukmejian, saying he wants to create "a positive development climate" for construction of affordable housing, unveiled a package of legislation Saturday that would provide stiffer penalties for slumlords, strike down roadblocks to the use of manufactured homes and extend state subsidies to private developers.

But while asserting that "owning a home is an integral part of the American dream," Deukmejian made it clear that he will not directly involve the state in any massive housing-construction programs.

"State government cannot and should not try to become the landlord for 28 million Californians," the governor said.

The housing package, announced during Deukmejian's weekly prerecorded radio broadcast, is the second initiative unveiled this month by the Republican Administration during a time when both political parties are showcasing their legislative agendas in anticipation of the upcoming election. All 80 Assembly seats and half of the Senate's 40 seats will be up for grabs in November.

Democratic Response

In the Democratic response to Deukmejian's radio speech, Assembly Speaker Willie Brown of San Francisco proposed as a top priority of his party a package of legislation to finance child care and called on Deukmejian to sensitize himself to the plight of one-parent families and working couples whose children might otherwise be neglected.

"If we are to succeed fully," Brown said, "more legislators and the Deukmejian Administration must be convinced of the importance of this issue."

Key parts of the plan would spend $42.5 million for expansion of subsidized child care and offer tax credits for child-care costs.

Deukmejian, meanwhile, was closeted in Long Beach with his closest political advisers and GOP leaders of the Assembly and Senate to draw up strategy for the Republicans to seize control of at least one house of the Legislature by 1990.

That is when the party in power will be able to shape the once-a-decade process of redrawing legislative and congressional districts--an exercise that tends to perpetuate the Legislature's majority even if popular vote shifts direction.

Anti-Drug Legislation

Three weeks ago, Deukmejian used his Saturday address to press for a major package of anti-drug legislation that includes longer prison sentences, greater authority for police to confiscate personal property of drug dealers and an end to California's prohibition against wiretapping by state and local police.

That package has run into problems in the Democratic-controlled Legislature, particularly the wiretapping bill, which has been blocked in the Assembly Public Safety Committee. The governor, however, is expected to get help from the so-called "Gang of Five" dissident Democrats, who have already vowed to join with Republicans to push the bill to a floor vote.

The housing package is less controversial. Most of the bills would expand programs already in effect, including one authored by a Democrat that modifies controversial legislation signed into law by former Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr.

That measure would require local governments to allow the installation of manufactured housing on all residential lots, so long as the units meet the same standards as conventionally built housing and are architecturally in harmony with surrounding homes.

The bill, by Sen. Leroy Greene (D-Carmichael), would not allow placement of traditional mobile homes in neighborhoods but would erase administrative and political roadblocks to the type of housing constructed elsewhere and transported to a building site for assembly.

A bill signed into law by former Gov. Brown was intended to do much the same. However, it contained an escape clause that prompted many localities to frustrate the intention of the law. As a result, housing officials said, few manufactured homes ever found their way into existing neighborhoods.

Other Proposals

Other bills in Deukmejian's housing package would:

- Increase penalties for health and safety violations in rental properties and require landlords to pay all costs of enforcing those laws as well as the cost of relocating tenants while repairs are under way.

- Allow private developers and profit-making organizations to apply for housing loans and grants now designated for nonprofit groups. Private developers have long complained that construction of so-called affordable housing is too costly and is not practical unless government provides direct subsidies.

- Require redevelopment agencies to draw up plans for the "prompt use" of money set aside for development of low- and moderate-income housing. Redevelopment agencies already set aside 20% of their tax money for that purpose, but the agencies are reportedly holding $159 million of that money rather than spending it on housing.

- Continue the state's Housing Trust Fund program, scheduled to close next January, which provides money for emergency shelter, "self-help" housing programs, senior-shared housing and farm-labor housing.

- Require owners of rentals financed by the California Housing Finance Agency to give six months notice before the end of the period in which the state requires the units to be rented to low- and moderate-income tenants.

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