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California governor signs bills to speed homeless shelters

California is giving cities and counties more power to speed up the building of supportive housing and shelters amid a homelessness crisis.

Posted: Sep 27, 2019 12:14 PM

By KATHLEEN RONAYNE Associated Press

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California is giving cities and counties more power to speed up the building of supportive housing and shelters amid a homelessness crisis.

Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom signed 13 laws aimed at stemming the crisis Thursday. His action comes as Republican President Donald Trump criticizes California's handling of the issue, most recently blaming homelessness for water pollution .

California, the nation's most populous state, has a growing number of people living in the streets in cities such as Los Angeles and San Francisco. But Newsom has accused Trump of politicizing the issue and called on the federal government to provide more aid to get people into housing.

Newsom said the bills he's signed will "give local governments even more tools to confront this crisis."

One new law that takes effect immediately lets Los Angeles bypass parts of the California Environmental Quality Act to build supportive housing and shelters. Another lets projects that will turn hotels into housing forego certain CEQA reviews through 2025.

"Supportive housing and shelters aren't being built quickly enough and as long as Californians are struggling to survive in our streets, we have a moral responsibility to do everything in our power to provide the shelter and assistance they need to get back on their feet," Assemblyman Miguel Santaigo, a Los Angeles Democrat, said in a statement.

Some critics of CEQA have argued it can be weaponized to delay development of projects community residents might find unfavorable.

Another adds Orange and Alameda counties as well as San Jose to the list of places that can declare emergencies and build shelters on publicly owned land. It builds on a 2017 law that lets Berkeley, Emeryville, Los Angeles, Oakland, San Diego, Santa Clara and San Francisco declare such crisis.

"I am optimistic that we will continue to work together to bring solutions to our homelessness crisis," said Democratic Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva, who authored the bill and represents parts of Orange County.

Los Angeles declared a shelter crisis after the 2017 law and set a goal of creating 750 to 1,500 new shelter beds, according to a bill analysis. So far it has opened 109 of those beds and has 170 under construction.

Another piece of legislation signed by Newsom exempts projects built with $2 billion in voter-approved bonds from environmental rules. The Sierra Club, an environmental group, opposed the legislation.

Other bills Newsom signed will:

—Allow for the use of vacant California armories to provide temporary shelter during hazardous weather.

—Create a legal framework for agreements with landlords allowing tenants to take in people at risk of homelessness.

—Let the California Department of Transportation lease property to local governments at a cost of $1 per month for emergency shelters.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 218689

Reported Deaths: 2855
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah41723618
Washington27764258
Marion24459332
Clackamas19888241
Lane14804174
Jackson12522155
Deschutes1052887
Umatilla950594
Linn624882
Yamhill506281
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Douglas446188
Polk429357
Josephine413675
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Columbia208132
Union167124
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Curry77912
Tillamook7495
Grant5627
Lake4878
Harney45811
Wallowa2286
Gilliam871
Sherman862
Wheeler421
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California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 3944933

Reported Deaths: 64386
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles129358324677
Riverside3079224659
San Bernardino3062735236
San Diego2950543798
Orange2817905143
Santa Clara1230832099
Sacramento1152001777
Kern1130711425
Fresno1044581746
Alameda958261282
Ventura835231043
San Joaquin769151460
Contra Costa75842832
Stanislaus657091091
Tulare50363854
Monterey44484528
San Mateo44477588
San Francisco40144561
Solano35703262
Santa Barbara35647467
Merced32961484
Sonoma32665330
Imperial29096745
Placer25146307
Kings23611250
San Luis Obispo21970265
Madera17024249
Santa Cruz16616207
Marin14825239
Yolo14801215
Butte13184205
Shasta12963242
El Dorado11063120
Napa1042082
Sutter10159126
Yuba698551
San Benito627463
Lassen588127
Tehama586466
Nevada535075
Humboldt504553
Mendocino468351
Tuolumne449573
Lake423865
Amador387048
Siskiyou256140
Glenn246427
Colusa235718
Calaveras230758
Del Norte16438
Inyo145338
Mono13255
Plumas7656
Modoc5737
Mariposa4987
Trinity4626
Sierra1290
Alpine890
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