State Sen. Scott Wiener has proposed legislation that woud override local zoning controls. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

State Sen. Scott Wiener has proposed legislation that woud override local zoning controls. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Wiener’s housing density bill dead in the water until 2020

Vote on Senate Bill 50 postponed by Appropriations Committee

Legislation from state Sen. Scott Wiener that promises to tackle California’s housing crisis hit a roadblock on Thursday.

The Senate Appropriations Committee made Senate Bill 50 ineligible for a vote until January 2020, removing any chances of the legislation passing this year.

The legislation would override local control of housing development, allowing for six-unit buildings to be constructed near transit lines and in “job rich” areas where zoning currently allows only single-family housing.

“While I’m extremely disappointed, I am 100 percent committed to moving the bill forward,” Wiener said in a statement. “This fight is far from over.”

Todd David, executive director of the San Francisco Housing Action Coalition, said he believed the legislation would have passed if the committee had allowed it to come to a vote.

David suspects pressure to delay the bill came from a large opposing delegation in Los Angeles.

“This to me feels like behind the scenes maneuvering on the part of Los Angeles,” said David, who supports the legislation.

The bill has been met with opposition from a number of city supervisors despite garnering bipartisan support and the backing of affordable housing, labor, environmental, business, senior and student organizations.

Those opposed to the bill cite weak protections for sensitive communities and the bill’s failure to mandate substantial community benefits from developers.

Supervisor Gordon Mar, who represents the Sunset District, has introduced a resolution opposing the bill calling for “the opportunity to plan for our own neighborhoods with permanently affordable housing, more open space and more robust community benefits.”

Board of Supervisors President Norman Yee, along with supervisors Rafael Mandelman, Sandra Lee Fewer, Aaron Peskin, Shamann Walton and Hillary Ronen, co-sponsored Mar’s resolution.

In response to the committee’s decision , Mar said he hoped Wiener would use “this additional time to address the serious concerns many have with SB 50.”

“While recent amendments carved out the suburbs and some of the least dense parts of the state, they did not address the concerns we have here in San Francisco,” Mar said.

Mar said those concerns were, “Increasing affordability requirements, providing transit funding, preventing displacement, and giving communities a voice and a seat at the table in planning for the future of their neighborhoods.”

David pointed out that “kicking this can down the road,” does not prevent local city officials from handling this themselves.

“I think the local officials talk a big game but if you look at the history of the bay area and the housing crisis state intervention seems necessary.”


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