“SAN FRANCISCO — If there’s a point of universal agreement in California politics, it’s that the state’s housing crisis has spiraled to urgent proportions.
But a ballot initiative designed to tackle the prohibitive cost of housing stands to fracture Democrats here, pitting some of the state’s top elected officials against one another and placing some of the party’s most influential donors and interest groups at odds.
It’s a conflict that resonates beyond California’s borders as more and more major cities struggle to do something about the skyrocketing cost of finding a place to live. And the issue is likely to surface in the 2020 Democratic presidential primaries since it afflicts some of the biggest and most influential blue states, ranging from California to Illinois to New York.
Already, the initiative has split two prominent California politicians with national aspirations and bases in the urban hubs where the housing crunch is particularly acute: Los Angeles mayor and potential presidential contender Eric Garcetti supports the measure, saying it would restore needed local authority to address the crisis. Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who has embraced an aggressive housing agenda as the front-runner to be the state’s next governor, does not.
The problem may be more acute in California, where soaring rents and a dearth of affordable homes — both of which are helping to drive one of the nation’s worst homelessness epidemics — have pushed housing to the top of the agenda.”