Press Release: Kate Harrison Stands Against “Trickle-Down” Housing Policies at Chamber of Commerce Forum

From the Kate Harrison campaign
Tuesday February 21, 2017 - 05:26:00 PM

Berkeley City Council candidate explains plan to preserve, develop new affordable housing for a diverse community

Calling for regional solutions for new housing and to reduce homelessness, Berkeley City Council Kate Harrison, at a recent debate forum hosted by the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce, said focusing only on market rate housing development in Berkeley won’t solve Berkeley’s affordability challenge.

“The real need is moderate and low-income housing,” said Harrison. “ ... building only market rate here in a local, hyper-active real estate market will not result in a reduction in prices. We have met 300% of the regional standard for market rate housing without an apparent impact on prices.” 

Harrison’s opponent said he has supported “by-right” development to speed up new housing production. By-right development, rejected resoundingly last year by the California legislature, would severely limit community input in planning. “The way we get the housing is to build the market rate units,” he said, before Harrison challenged him on over-reliance on luxury housing. 

“I really don’t believe in the trickle down idea that building all market rate will in the near term result in more affordable rents.” Harrison said, arguing that approach would also make Berkeley less diverse. “We’re not having the same conversation. I would like to see balanced, equitable growth in Berkeley that allows us to keep our African American community, our artists.” 

Instead, to preserve and develop new affordable housing, Harrison called for: 

  • Deep affordability requirements for new housing projects, that reflect the impact of these projects on the community; 

  • Taxes on short term rentals, and; 

  • Increased transfer taxes on residential home sales to support affordable housing. 

“If we want to cut greenhouse gases, we have to provide housing for the people who work here,” she said, not merely build housing for commuters to elsewhere. “Berkeley is a real place, not just a transit corridor.” Harrison also proposed a City program to assist seniors in financing accessibility upgrades to their homes so they can remain in Berkeley. In contrast, last year, Harrison’s opponent proposed a parcel tax on all homeowners to pay for affordable housing, a tax that would hit low income and senior homeowners particularly hard. 

Harrison supports a balanced approach to new housing, and also rejected a proposal by her opponent (in a questionnaire by the Berkeley Progressive Association) that would require homeowners with large yards but no accessory dwelling unit to pay for a special use permit. 

A special all-mail ballot election is underway in Berkeley’s District 4, where Harrison seeks to succeed Mayor Jesse Arreguín on the council. The final day to vote is March 7. Harrison’s recent appearance before the Chamber of Commerce was streamed via Facebook live and can be reviewed at: https://www.facebook.com/100009944043239/videos/420668544941277/ The housing portion of the debate begins at minute 34:45.