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Fw: Senate Bill 50

From: domainremoved <Gary>
Date: Wed, 5 Feb 2020 10:13:00 +0000 (UTC)

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----- Forwarded Message -----
From: Senator Bates <senator.bates_at_(domainremoved)
To: Senator Bates <senator.bates_at_(domainremoved)
Sent: Tuesday, February 4, 2020, 04:02:33 PM PST
Subject: RE: Senate Bill 50

Thank you for your message regarding Senate Bill 50 (Wiener), the bill concerning the construction of higher-density housing. I appreciate hearing from you and I am writing to give you an update.

As you may know, SB 50 failed to pass on the Senate floor on January 30, 2020.

In its latest form, SB 50 requires local governments to reduce specified local zoning standards in “jobs-rich” and “transit rich areas.” This bill also requires a neighborhood multifamily project containing up to four dwelling units to be subject to a streamlined, approval process. Specifically:

• SB 50 requires cities and counties to allow higher-density housing near “jobs-rich” and “transit-rich” centers.

• SB 50 provides localities two years to develop plans that increase housing density – localities that do not come up with their own plans will be subjected to a one-size-fits-all standard developed by the California Department of Housing and Community Development.

• SB 50 delays implementation in “sensitive communities” (defined as disadvantaged and vulnerable to displacement) until January 1, 2026, unless the city or county in which the area is located votes to make these provisions applicable after a specified petition and public hearing process.

While the latest version of SB 50 is an improvement over the previous version, I could not support it for several reasons.

First, SB 50 removes requirements for parking in new developments. Most households, even those that commute through alternative methods, own at least one vehicle, and any new development must take this reality into account. Without adequate parking, cars are forced to compete for on-street parking, creating significant public safety issues and challenges for local businesses and neighboring properties. It is unrealistic to expect that most Californians – especially families – will move into new housing and not bring a personal vehicle with them. I repeatedly asked SB 50’s supporters to include a sensible parking requirement in the bill, but they refused.

Second, the bill ultimately allows the construction of multi-unit housing in single-family residential neighborhoods, which undermines decades-long local control community planning authority. Additionally this would create significant traffic and public safety impacts in neighborhoods that were designed to only accommodate the needs of single-family homes. Given that the bill removes parking requirements for new developments, residents in single-family homes are understandably concerned that multi-story housing towers would be built next to them and create significant traffic and parking problems.

Third, SB 50 is a one-size-fits-all solution for a geographically and demographically diverse state. It undermines the authority of local governments to make decisions that respond to the concerns of their residents. SB 50 is partly a reaction to what is happening in San Francisco, where housing costs are astronomical and there is physically little space to build new housing other than constructing high-rise towers. SB 50 may work well for San Francisco given its unique geography, but it does not mean it is the best solution for the rest of California.

Finally, SB 50 exempts numerous cities from its requirements, including Carmel-by-the-Sea and Malibu. Furthermore, SB 50 gives special treatment to Marin County – a county in the San Francisco Bay Area. This is not the first time Marin has received special treatment in Sacramento. In 2014 and 2017, the Legislature exempted the county from state density requirements for affordable housing projects. I have nothing against Marin County or any other community that will receive special treatment from SB 50, but if SB 50 is a good bill, it should apply to everyone.

I know that California has become increasingly unaffordable for many people, with the cost of housing continuing to rise in communities throughout the state due to high demand and low supply. The state simply is not building enough housing to keep up with population growth. That is why I have fought for reforms to cut red tape and opposed previous measures that have added to the cost of new housing construction. However, SB 50 as currently written is not the answer given the concerns that I have listed above.



Senator, 36th District

(Orange and San Diego Counties)
Received on Wed Feb 05 2020 - 02:19:56 PST

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