Sacramento Made Us Do It: Cities Blame Lawmakers for Unpopular Housing Decisions

April 15, 2018

Mercury News
By Katy Murphy

Carefully, like a doctor explaining treatment options to a sick patient, a consultant for a tiny Peninsula city laid out a stark choice: Allow 2,000 homes to be built on a barren 684 acres or risk tangling with state lawmakers who have threatened to jam through a development twice as large.

“We talked to the council abut everything between doing a full-throated fight with Sacramento to doing a very quick and dirty compromise, which is done in Sacramento all the time,” attorney Tom McMorrow told the small group of residents at a recent Brisbane City Council meeting, assuring them that a full environmental clean-up of the contaminated Baylands site was part of the deal.

In the Capitol, he said, “Issues don’t just go away because you’ve defeated them once. The way you get them to go away is responsible compromise.”

Brisbane — which to outsiders has become emblematic of development gridlock and NIMBYism — is one of many cities grappling with Sacramento’s forceful response to California’s housing crisis. As renters, would-be buyers and employers reel from runaway prices, powerful lawmakers are aiming to boost the supply of homes, one reluctant city at a time.

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