Senator Wiener's latest repackaging of his gentrification bill SB 827 has returned this legislative session as SB 50, which will be heard by the Senate Government and Finance Committee later this month. Essentially nothing has changed about this bill, save for mild lip-service given to "sensitive communities" that will be impacted by luxury development in "job-rich" neighborhoods. What do these terms mean? It's hard to say, given that Wiener has yet to concretely define how tenant protections will be enforced. Here's what we do know.
SB 50 calls for the upzoning of neighborhoods surrounding transit stops and "job rich" communities. In communities traditionally zoned for single family homes, this bill intends to produce more housing by allowing denser development in the form of market-rate apartments and other multi-family residences. Despite Wiener's claim that "sensitive communities" will be spared from upzoning and the effect of climbing rents, there are large loopholes which developers can use to avoid affordable units. In-lieu fees would allow developers to contribute to affordable housing "off-site," but just how the bill would hold those developers and cities accountable is a gray area tenant advocates are not willing to turn a blind eye to. Additionally, Wiener's formula for deciding what constitutes a "sensitive community" leaves many tenant neighborhoods exposed to displacement. For instance, several neighborhoods within the Mission in San Francisco do not meet the bill's criteria for such protections, despite the community's struggle with displacement for decades. The same applies to hundreds of other low-density, low-income communities across the state who may not qualify for the state-mandated designation.
The lack of affordable housing - not luxury housing - is driving California's housing crisis. Without strong affordability requirements and tenant protections, developer giveaways pose serious threats to the very communities we aim to protect. As an alternative to Wiener's bill, we believe that there are other ways to increase density and address the construction of truly affordable units in high-resource areas. Asm. Bloom's AB 1279 calls for a similar plan but with stronger protections for tenants and no loopholes to escape affordable housing requirements. Aimed at high-resource areas, Bloom's plan accounts for local agency and the urgent need for developers to provide a fair share of affordable housing.
To submit organizational/individual opposition of SB 50, use an Advocate portal to submit letters to the Senate Government and Finance Committee.
To submit organizational/individual support of AB 1279, use an Advocate portal to submit letters to the Assembly Committee on Local Government.
Don't have an Advocate account?
Steps to Submit Organizational Positions on Senate and Assembly Bills:
STEP ONE: If you have not yet done so, please create an advocate account with the state legislature. It is a free and relatively brief process. Creating an account is now a necessary step for all organizations to go on record in support or opposition to any legislation. Note: it is NOT the same as registering as a lobbyist. Please go to https://calegislation.lc.ca.gov/Advocates/faces/index.xhtml to create an advocate account.
STEP TWO: Once you have logged on to the state ‘advocate’ portal you can then go on record to support SB/AB __. Select the bill from the main menu, direct your message to the respective committee, and select your position ("oppose", in the case of SB 50).