John Chiang knows California is in a housing crisis. There is much demand and not enough supply. One of his ideas would reverse a decision of the man he is trying to replace as governor.

“I want to bring (redevelopment agencies) back in an altered form,” the state treasurer told GV Wire in a sit-down interview.

Redevelopment agencies were a tool local cities used to help raise revenues and revitalize their towns. Gov. Jerry Brown helped push the legislation to dissolve RDA in 2011 (going into effect the following year), citing mismanagement reported by a Cato Institute publication in 2014. Since then, successor agencies were formed, including Fresno, to sell off assets RDA held.

He noted the abuses that led to those closures. “We need to start investing some of those dollars so teachers who work in local schools can live in those communities.”

Chiang toured Fresno on Monday (Aug. 28). Among his itinerary: speaking to the Maddy Institute; an endorsement meeting with the California Teachers Association and talking with citizens at a local bar.

Just this past Sunday, violence broke out at a protest in Berkeley. Trump supporters were allegedly attacked by members identifying themselves as “Antifa” or anarchists. Chiang reacted.

“We’re at the place in America where people are articulating and fighting for their values. We need to elevate this so people can have honest conversations,” Chiang said. “I am one who experienced discrimination, hate and bigotry my whole life. I think it is important for good-willed Americans and Californians to say that’s not acceptable. We have to do so in a fashion where violence is not the approach people engage in.”

When asked if he would protect the First Amendment rights of those he disagreed with, Chiang said this is a country where people could articulate their values. Though, he added “hate speech is illegal. You have to draw that line.”

Asked to clarify, Chiang said “when discriminatory application takes place.” He did say holding unpopular views at a rally is protected speech.

Chiang also voiced his support to another effort to help with affordable housing, SB 35 currently in the legislature. He supported its reforms of incentives for local cities to expedite housing approvals.

Endorses Prevailing Wage

One sticking point in the bill (at the time of the interview) was a provision that would mandate all public works projects be paid on the prevailing wage rate (a scale that would pay union-type wages. There is debate of how much this increases projects). Chiang says he supports that concept.

“When you use public dollars, in many cases, I do,” he said.

The Treasurer also recognizes the need for water solutions, but would not yet commit to supporting building Temperance Flat, as advocated by many leaders in the Central Valley.

Chiang’s talk with GV Wire also included his thoughts on cities regulating marijuana and what the Democratic Party stands for. Watch the full interview below.

Watch Chiang’s speech and Q&A with the Maddy Institute (August 28, 2017):


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