By TONI G. ATKINS
As we embark on 2021, there are unknowns and challenges ahead of us, but also opportunities.
We returned to Sacramento this month to continue our legislative work, which as you can imagine, is largely focused on the COVID-19 pandemic. That was our legislative priority in 2020, and continues to be this year.
Too many lives have been lost and many more disrupted by this virus. The Senate will continue to work to find ways to help our neighbors, schools and businesses survive the impacts of this pandemic. In addition to work on vaccine procurement and distribution, the Legislature and the Governor will be working with our new federal partners on funding solutions to protect renters and homeowners, as well as students, teachers, health care personnel, small businesses and the vendors and suppliers who depend on them.
COVID-19 has exacerbated what was an already-critical need for more affordable housing and more housing supply in our state. In taking a leadership role, the Senate has introduced the ‘Building Opportunities for All’ Senate Housing Package, which includes six bills aimed at offering housing opportunities and solutions for Californians.
I have two bills in the Senate housing package — SB 7 (The Housing + Jobs Expansion and Extension Act) which would expand and extend the existing CEQA streamlining process for environmental leadership development projects. SB 9 (The California Housing Opportunity and More Efficiency (HOME) Act) — which will help streamline the process for new housing units while maintaining local control and preserving neighborhood character. It would allow more homeowners to create a duplex or subdivide an existing lot in residential area.
We have a unique opportunity to pursue legislation and policies that support the housing needs of local governments and all Californians and I’m excited that the Senate is leading the way. More information can be found at focus.senate.ca.gov/housing.
We also must tackle the other crisis that touches all Californians: climate change. Given the wildfires, record high temperatures, and persistent drought conditions, I introduced SB 1 (The California Sea Level Rise Mitigation and Adaptation Act of 2021), which helps local communities address sea level rise. That need is particularly important critical in San Diego, since it affects both our economy and military.
The Senate will also be advancing a $4.1 billion bond measure to help communities invest in climate resiliency — including addressing sea level rise, preparing for droughts, and preventing wildfires.
I’m also proud to co-author SB 2 with my colleague Senator Steven Bradford (D-Gardena), which requires law enforcement officers to have their certifications revoked following the conviction of serious crimes or termination from employment due to misconduct. This legislation is a social justice commitment to ensuring that no one is above the law.
There is important work ahead. I am deeply honored to have been re-elected to represent the 39th Senate District and humbled by the opportunities my community has given me to serve. Should you ever need to get in touch with my office, please do not hesitate to reach out to my District Team. By Phone: 619-645-3133. Submit a comment online: www.sd39.senate.ca.gov
— Toni G. Atkins is President pro Tempore of the California Senate. Having previously served as Speaker of the California Assembly, she began her tenure in the Senate in 2016. As Senator for District 39, she represents the cities of San Diego, Coronado, Del Mar and Solana Beach. Website of President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins: www.senate.ca.gov/Atkins