A bill that would boost housing construction near California’s public transit lines has drawn strong support from affordable housing advocates but opposition from others, and it comes less than a year after an earlier version died in committee.
Supporters say Senate Bill 50 would boost the state’s supply of much needed affordable housing, while opponents fear it could force communities into allowing projects that exceed their height and density limits.
The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce is currently considering its position on the proposed legislation that has been touted by some, as California’s most far-reaching housing production bill ever.
Authored by state Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, the bill would eliminate hyper-low-density zoning near public transit and job centers, effectively legalizing apartment buildings and affordable housing in these areas while also reducing carbon emissions by allowing people to live closer to where they work.
It would allow apartments within a half-mile of a rail station or a quarter-mile of a bus stop with frequent service and in “jobs-rich” areas. Locally, it could boost housing development around Los Angeles Metro stations.
The measure, also known as More HOMES (Housing, Opportunity, Mobility, Equity and Stability) would additionally reduce or eliminate minimum parking requirements for new developments.
The Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California, a coalition of 750 affordable housing organizations, signed on as a co-sponsor of the bill, as did California YIMBY (Yes in My Backyard), whose mission is to ensure California is an affordable place to live, work and raise a family.
Not everyone is thrilled with the legislation. The LA Tenants Union and the AIDS Healthcare Foundation—both of whom backed the ill-fated anti-development initiative, Prop S in 2017—claim SB 50 only promotes “luxury” housing.
Other opponents fear the bill’s impacts on local control. There has been concern from some that SB 50 would allow apartments and affordable housing to be built in “jobs-rich” areas. That means communities that have been successful at attracting employers and workers but haven’t built enough housing wouldn’t be able to reject housing developments based on certain height and density limits, even if they aren’t near busy transit lines.
One thing is certain: California is grappling with a severe housing shortage. The California Department of Housing and Community Development estimates the state needs to build 1.8 million more units by 2025.