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Bakersfield City Council approves 2 state housing bills

Ward 7 Representative Manpreet Kaur says the bills will help Bakersfield address the homelessness crisis, but Ward 6's Patty Gray says the state legislature is overstepping its authority.
Posted: 5:02 PM, Jun 19, 2023
Updated: 2023-06-20 02:22:54-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — The Bakersfield City Council voted 5-2 last week in support of California Senate Bills 423 and 424, which will assemble the design and permit process for affordable housing projects on state-owned or leased land, or land owned by religious organizations. The vote comes as the State of California has reached a critical point with the housing crisis.

Ward 7 Councilmember Manpreet Kaur says she believes the city is committed to addressing housing issues.

"I have full confidence in our planning department and in our city staff for bringing affordable housing to our city and to the communities. It is a fact that our state and our city are in a housing crisis," said Kaur.

Kaur says the council is proud of the success of the Brundage Lane Navigation Center Shelter and the positive impact it has had on the homeless population, but she says there is more to be done.

"There's a transition," said Kaur. "Folks must be transitioned into affordable housing in order for more folks to come through BLNC, and that cycle repeats."

Kaur acknowledges that there is a homelessness crisis here in Bakersfield and throughout the state, and she says the 2 bills, which some city staff had opposed, are not about Sacramento telling the city what to do.

"We are sending a message that we agree with you. We agree with our state elected officials in saying that yes, we welcome affordable housing. We welcome what eases the process in being able to keep housing affordable in a place like the City of Bakersfield," said Kaur.

Bakersfield City Council Representative for Ward 6 Patty Gray, one of the two council members who voted against the bills, shares her reasoning.

"For us to have to bypass our local standards and just allow for any type of building being thrown up in our city without us not being able to make the decision, our local planning commission, what's even the point of having a planning commission if you have laws like this in the books in Sacramento?" said Gray.

Even with the opposition from other council members, Kaur says the two bills will help alleviate the affordable housing problem here in Bakersfield, as well as provide guidance from our elected officials in Sacramento.

"This bill is well on its way, so rather I think it creates an opportunity for us to engage with our state elected officials with the bills that are coming down, as this is actually a new process that we are doing at the city," said Kaur.

Kaur says the two bills recognize the affordable housing crisis here in Bakersfield, and the bills will be able to help the issue at hand.


According to the City of Bakersfield, housing is considered affordable when housing expenses are equal to or less than 30 percent of household income. Households paying more than 30 percent of their income on housing are considered cost-burdened.

The city says that for Bakersfield renters making between $20,000 and $35,000 per year, 84 percent were considered cost-burdened as of 2019.

Of Bakersfield homeowners in the same income range, 74% were considered cost-burdened as of 2019.