For the fourth year in a row, Assemblymember Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica) will chair the Assembly’s budget subcommittee that oversees spending on pressing environmental issues such as transportation and greenhouse gas reductions.
Bloom, a resident of Santa Monica who served on the city council from 1999 until he was elected to the State Assembly in 2012, has chaired Budget Subcommittee No. 3 since his first year in office and sees California’s role as a leader on the environment as even more vital under a Trump presidency.
“President-elect Trump and the Republican Congress appear to be hell-bent on dismantling U.S. policy on climate change, a position that is at odds with the views of a majority of Americans,” Bloom said in a press release issued by his office Tuesday.
“California has long been looked to for its thoughtful leadership on environmental issues and my Budget Subcommittee will continue that tradition,” he said. “California’s voice, rooted in science and steadfast in the face of difficult decisions, is more important now, than ever.”
In addition to overseeing spending on transportation and greenhouse gas reduction issues, Budget Subcommittee No. 3 is also in charge of budget issues related to preserving water resources, state parks, conservation of natural resources, air quality, and renewable energy.
“The Budget Subcommittee’s work in the upcoming years will be vital as the State fights to protect that mission and legacy from a potentially hostile executive branch. As the Committee begins its work on next year’s budget, it will be facing a dramatically changed national political landscape with a President and members of the controlling party in Congress having, at various points, called climate change a hoax, threatened to dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency, suggested the U.S’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, and with climate change-deniers poised to lead important agencies in the administration,” the press release from Bloom’s office reads.
Addressing the causes of climate change is only one of the issues Bloom has tackled during his time in Sacramento. He has introduced a bill banning captive breeding of orcas, which was signed into law earlier this year and he has been a champion of efforts to preserve the existing population of mountain lions in the Santa Monica Mountains.
In 2016, Bloom was one of several legislators working on solutions to California’s growing housing crisis, introducing three bills aimed at addressing the shortage of housing.
Bloom had also worked closely with the Governor Jerry Brown’s office on Brown’s ill-fated “by right” bill that would have streamlined the process for new multi-family housing, so long as the projects comported to local zoning standards and included a certain percentage of affordable housing.
While the housing shortage is a statewide problem, Santa Monica, Bloom’s home city, is particularly affected. Over the last four years, anti-growth activists have killed at least five projects that would have added a total of more than 1,000 new homes to the city without displacing any current residents.
The lack of housing growth in Santa Monica, combined with an excellent job market and overall high desirability, has translated into steadily climbing rents. In fact, housing costs in Santa Monica are some of the highest in Southern California, increasingly forcing out low- and moderate-income families. It’s a microcosm of what’s happening across the state.
Los Angeles, for example, has been heading in this direction as a result of widespread downzoning in the 1980s and 1990s that saw L.A.’s planned potential population capacity shrink from about 10 million people to about 4 million people. Local opposition to growth in places like Los Angeles and San Francisco have resulted in a major uptick in displacement of lower-income households farther and farther from transit access and jobs.
Experts have argued that a regional or statewide approach to zoning is needed to trump local zoning laws, which tend to exacerbate economic segregation and encourage sprawl.