Partnership Sponsors Legislation to Incentivize Affordable Housing Development on Surplus School Properties
IRWINDALE - The San Gabriel Valley Economic Partnership has sponsored legislation designed to incentivize the development of affordable housing on surplus school properties. The new bill, SB 1017, is being carried by one of our local lawmakers, Senator Anthony Portantino (D-La Canada Flintridge).
“This bill will incentivize school districts to sell or lease surplus properties for vital, new affordable housing,” said Bill Manis, President and CEO of the San Gabriel Valley Economic Partnership. “By providing greater flexibility in how districts can use the proceeds of a property lease or sale, more land will be available for affordable housing in communities that desperately need it.”
Declining student enrollment is a challenge school districts across the state have been struggling with for many years. As California grows more expensive to live in and the size of families decline, less students are attending schools. Since state funding is based on average daily attendance, many school districts here in the San Gabriel Valley have had to close schools to save money on operations, personnel, and maintenance. Just last October, Pasadena Unified School District closed three elementary schools and Wilson Middle School. A year ago, Azusa Unified closed Sierra High and Mountain View Elementary. These school campuses are often repurposed for other educational uses but many sit largely empty, sometimes for decades as surplus school properties.
Why can't schools just sell or lease these properties, especially if they're facing financial difficulties? California state law requires schools to go through a complicated "7-11" Committee process to review the impact selling school property would have on a community. State law also restricts how the revenues of a sale or lease could be used by the district to capital improvements with some limited exceptions.
SB 1017 provides school districts a menu of new financial options to use the revenues from the sale or lease of surplus school property - but these options are only available if the districts sell or lease for new affordable housing development. Under SB 1017, districts would have the option of using the sale or lease revenues for:
1) capital improvements, including deferred maintenance;
2) the option to deposit revenues in the General Fund reserve;
3) create a new fund to pay for ongoing CalSTRS and CalPERS payments; and
4) used to offset increasing costs for special needs students.
“Considering the challenges that California faces regarding funding for public education, pension obligations, and the construction of affordable housing, it does not make sense to me that school districts are hamstrung in how they are able use their assets. I’m hopeful that we can help all three important efforts,” Senator Portantino said.
For more information about this legislation, contact Brad Jensen, Director of Public Policy for the Partnership firstname.lastname@example.org or (626) 856-3400.