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California Gives Non-Housing Projects a Shot at Cheap Financing

  • Vote means Las Vegas train, desalination plant can apply
  • Controller, activists wanted $4.3 billion to all go to housing

A California agency voted Wednesday to reserve some of the state’s limited private activity bonds to non-housing uses, providing an opportunity for projects such as a private-equity backed train to Las Vegas and a controversial desalination plant to apply for the coveted financing.

At its meeting, the California Debt Limit Allocation Committee in a split vote approved divvying up $4.3 billion of its bond capacity, an amount determined under population-based federal guidelines, mostly to projects that boost affordable housing. Of that, $510.4 million will go toward qualifying non-housing projects such as the electric rail proposed by a company backed by Fortress Investment Group and Poseidon Water’s seawater facility in Huntington Beach that has drawn the ire of environmental groups.