SB 50, the bill that had upset Valley city governments because it threatened local land use planning, has been shelved for the remainder of the legislative session.
Sen. Anthony Portantino, a Democrat from La Canada Flintridge, is chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and shelved the bill there.
Portantino said in a news release that “SB 50 is a well-intentioned effort to help solve our state’s housing crisis, and it highlights two valid ways to affect land use decisions across the state: providing incentives or legislating mandates. My preference has always fallen on the side of incentives for local governments to accomplish goals.”
“There were legitimate concerns expressed from both large and small cities about the scope of SB 50 as it pertained to bus corridors, historic preservation, the definition of ‘jobs rich’ neighborhoods, and whether it would increase gentrification and discourage light rail expansion as unintended consequences; all of which justified the pause established today by the committee,” said Portantino.
Referring to the author of SB 50, Sen. Scott Wiener, Portantino said, “My colleague from San Francisco is one of the smartest and most earnest legislators in the capitol. He cares deeply about the housing crisis, and I expect him to continue to pursue his goals. Hopefully, we provided the opportunity to broaden the conversation, which can result in a more targeted legislative effort.”
Portantino was quoted in the SF Chronicle as saying that the way SB 50 is written, it could discourage suburban cities from wanting to have light rail extended to them, if the price amounted to losing local planning control. Wiener’s bill would create areas near public transit corridors that would allow higher multi-family unit densities.
SB 50 would establish high-density multifamily buildings within one-quarter to one-half mile of transit corridors, such as BART or certain express bus routes. It also would permit taller buildings, up to two or three stories more than currently allowed in suburban zones, a tiered density plan that allows higher density in big cities like Oakland, San Jose and San Francisco. High density residences could also be constructed near or in “job centers.”