California Senate Bill 50 is back
By Sam Catanzaro
A controversial bill that would tie the hands of local lawmakers in preventing the development of certain dense housing projects is up for consideration again by state lawmakers.
Senate Bill 50 (SB 50), authored by Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) would, if passed, permit the development of four and five-story apartment buildings within half a mile of major transit corridors and job hubs, overriding any local laws that may prohibit such development from occurring in these areas.
The bill was shelved last legislative session after failing to pass through the Senate Appropriations Committee. The new version before state lawmakers includes an amendment giving local lawmakers a two-year window to develop individual housing plans for their jurisdictions.
“These new amendments recognize that cities should have some flexibility in how they implement SB 50’s goals,” Wiener said in a statement. “We’ve spent enormous time and energy speaking with and receiving feedback from a broad array of stakeholders, including local governments. We’ve heard loud and clear that cities want the flexibility to implement this kind of legislation in a way that works best for them.”
In April of last year, Los Angeles City Council, led by Councilmember Paul Koretz who represents much of the Westside, voted 12-0 on a resolution opposing SB 50, the second year in a row they took such action. Koretz called the bill a “handout for developers” while fellow Westside Councilmember Mike Bonin expressed opposition citing fears of gentrification in his district.
Under the amended version, local lawmakers would be required to zone for the maximum amount of housing allowed under the initial version SB 50 without concentrating construction of new housing in low-income neighborhoods and without increasing car trips. When reached for comment, Bonin’s office said the Councilmember was reviewing the amended version before taking a position.
Local plans would be reviewed by the California Department of Housing and Community Development. If a local plan is rejected by the Department, the requirements of SB 50 would kick in.
In order to become law this legislative session, SB 50 must pass the Senate Appropriations Committee and then the full Senate by the end of January.