Don't be afraid, be informed about the CASA compact

There has been a lot of discussion recently about the CASA compact and related legislation, such as state bill SB50.  Much of the conversation has been misleading as many options are still being considered and a final legislation has not been adopted.

Palo Alto Forward strongly supports the principles of the CASA compact, which form the basis for a large amount of the state’s legislative efforts around housing.  The Committee to House the Bay Area (CASA) compact was developed over the past year and a half by committees composed of advocates for low-income residents, non-profit and market rate developers, labor, business and environmental groups and city representatives. The meetings were public and included extensive public comment.

The CASA principles are a compromise geared around the idea that no single solution is a silver bullet to the housing crisis. The compact reached across silos: builder’s supported rent control and low-income housing advocates supported more production.  The compact recognizes that a comprehensive strategy that spans renter protections, land use policy changes, and financial support was necessary to unite various communities and tackle the housing crisis.

The CASA compact embodies the following essential principles:

 

Renter Protection

Element 1: Just Cause eviction protections

Element 2: Rent Cap (CPI + 5%)

Element 3: Rent assistance and access to legal counsel

 

Land Use Policy

Element 4: Remove restrictions on ADUs

Element 5: Transit-oriented development

Element 6: Good government reforms (e.g. bounded number of hearings)

Element 7: Incentives for “missing middle” housing

 

Funding & Governance

Element 8: Promote Increased Use of Public Lands for Housing

Element 9: Funding options to raise $1.5 billion to implement the compact with emphasis on funding for below market rate housing

Element 10: A regional housing body to fund below market rate housing and the compact (this body has no land use or regulatory authority)

 

Many of these principles are already aligned with existing Palo Alto policy as exemplified by our Comprehensive Plan, Housing Work Plan, and zoning ordinances.  Palo Alto has adopted some policies already that align with these principles and while there is a lot more to do to make housing affordability a reality, the CASA principles point in a good direction for our city.  For example, the city's recent ADU ordinance goes well beyond state mandates in some areas and is very much aligned with the policy outlined by the CASA principles.  Further, we recently approved development of a workforce housing project on a parking lot owned by the VTA and have begun to explore housing on public lands at the Cubberley site.  Even the most controversial components of the compact--those advocating for minimum density near transit--are aligned with our Comprehensive Plan’s goals to concentrate housing in areas near transit like Downtown and Cal Ave rather than disrupting residential neighborhoods with large multi-family housing developments.   

To learn more about the details of the CASA principles, we encourage you to watch the video on our YouTube channel, read the slides about the compact and its supporting principles, or check out our FAQ.

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