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 SPUR’s comments on the many housing bills under consideration:
Accessory Dwelling Units
Removing Barriers to New Housing