Senator Scott Weiner (D-San Francisco) has reintroduced his SB 50 housing legislation for a third time this legislative session, with amendments to appeal to suburban homeowners, local governments, and anti-gentrification groups. The highly controversial legislation that has failed to pass in two previous sessions calls for state rules requiring more density around transit and “job-rich” areas, and would override virtually all local zoning, including historic preservation zones.
According to Weiner’s press announcement, “the amendments allow for more local flexibility in how best to implement the legislation. Specifically, the amendments create a two-year delayed implementation period for the legislation, allowing cities to craft their own alternative plans that meet the goals of SB 50. If state agencies confirm that a city’s proposed alternative plan is sufficient, then the alternative plan will govern at the end of the two-year delayed implementation.”
Weiner also announced that support for SB 50 is building. In December, the Santa Clara Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to support the measure. Local Mayors Meghan Sahli-Wells of Culver City and Albert Robles of Carson are now supporting the bill, too, alongside housing equity and environmental justice organization Pacoima Beautiful, located in the San Fernando Valley.
An analysis published by CalMatters on January 6 says:
“The changes unveiled by Wiener today go softer on local governments. Cities will now get two years to develop an alternative housing plan, which they’ll be able to submit to the state housing department. The plans will have to zone for the same amount of housing required by Wiener’s measure, and won’t be able to increase traffic or sprawl. If local governments don’t submit an acceptable alternative, the revised Wiener measure would kick in.
“We’ve heard from cities that ‘we want to have shorter buildings in one particular area, taller buildings in another,’” said Wiener. “‘And we want to zone for the amount of housing that SB 50 would require, but we want to tweak it to make it a bit shorter here, and taller there.’”
The League of California Cities — one of the bill’s fiercest critics and a powerful Capitol lobby — declined to comment on the amendments until they had time to analyze them further.” reported Calmatters, a non-partisan Sacramento based website focused on state government and legislation, in their analysis of the latest version of SB50.
The first test of the bill will come before the end of the month when the bill has to clear the Senate Appropriations Committee chaired by Sen. Anthony Portantino, Democrat from La Canada Flintridge, who used a secretive legislative prerogative to stall the legislation last May, according to CalMatters. Portantino’s office told CalMatters the Senator had not a chance to review the legislation.
Locally, homeowners groups are gearing up for another battle by trying to sort through the language of the new bill. Activists are encouraging residents to reach out to the members of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Governor Gavin Newsom, and their own state legislators.