What’s Next for Housing Now That SB 50 Has Been Deferred to 2020?
May 22, 2019

Photo of California State Capitol by Sergio Ruiz

Earlier this month, Senator Scott Wiener’s controversial state zoning bill, SB 50, was unexpectedly denied a committee hearing, rendering it impossible for the state legislature to pass it in 2019. SB 50 was intended to increase new housing statewide by placing limits on cities’ ability to restrict the height or density of new apartment buildings or to require parking for every unit.

A complex bill that came out of Senator Wiener’s SB 827 effort last year, SB 50 became even more nuanced this year through negotiation with tenant advocates and fellow senators. Nevertheless, it remained controversial among many local governments, elected officials, tenant advocates and NIMBY (“not in my backyard”) groups statewide for a variety of reasons, including worries about cities losing local control, fears that the bill might exacerbate displacement and concerns about changes in neighborhood character.

While Senator Wiener and the bill’s nonprofit sponsor, California YIMBY, thought there were sufficient votes to pass the bill on the state senate floor, the appropriations committee chair decided not to bring the bill to a vote this year. The bill cannot be voted upon until 2020 unless that committee chair changes his mind or the senate pro tem overrules him

SB 50 is part of a broader package of “3 Ps” bills — addressing housing production, preservation and tenant protections — that originally came out of the Bay Area’s CASA convening process. SPUR participated in CASA and voted in favor of the CASA Compact, a set of solutions for the region’s housing challenges. SPUR is supporting a number of bills in the state legislature intended to implement the CASA Compact. Some of those bills continue to move through the process, but hearings in the next week will determine which of those bills will pass their first house and move forward. Some of those key remaining bills include SB 330, Senator Nancy Skinner’s bill that places limits on cities’ ability to restrict housing; AB 1487, Assemblymember David Chiu’s bill that would create a regional housing entity for the Bay Area; and tenant protections bills from Assemblymember Chiu (AB 1482) and Assemblymenber Rob Bonta (AB 1481). However, without the main housing production bill in play, it’s difficult to know whether the remainder of the package — including tenant protections — will advance.

Read more about CASA

Read SPUR’s comments on the many housing bills under consideration:

Renter Protections

SB 18: Expands Statewide Rental Assistance and Legal Aid

AB 1481: Establishes Statewide 'Just Cause' Eviction Protection

AB 1482: Establishes a Statewide Rent Cap

AB 1697: Establishes Statewide 'Just Cause' Eviction Protection

Accessory Dwelling Units

SB 13: Reduce Barriers to Building Accessory Dwelling Units

AB 68: Reduce Barriers to Accessory Dwelling Units

AB 69: Sets Building Standards for Accessory Dwelling Units

AB 670: Accessory Dwelling Units in Common Interest Developments

Removing Barriers to New Housing

SB 50: Reduces Zoning Barriers to Infill Housing

SB 330: Remove Barriers to Building New Housing

AB 1485: Incentives for "Missing Middle" Housing

AB 1706: Financial Feasibility Incentives for "Missing Middle" Housing

Other State Housing Bills

ACA 1: Reduces Voter Threshold to Pass Housing and Infrastructure Bonds

SB 6: Establishes a Statewide Database of Surplus Land

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