August 5, 2021 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

SB 50 Revival Sought, With Big Changes

Every time Scott Wiener amends his SB 50 plan to force much higher housing density on virtually all parts of California, it seems a little less onerous for homeowners whose hard-earned life savings are invested in the kind of single family homes and roomy lots that originally drew millions to this state.

But make no mistake: Wiener, a Democratic state senator who views urban sprawl and large lots containing only one home as abominations, still means to change the face of California and the lifestyles of many Californians.

He’s convinced this must happen in order to solve the concurrent problems of homelessness and high housing prices that now confront state residents in many cities and affect anyone who shops for a new or different home.

Wiener, a resident of the extremely dense Castro District in central San Francisco, has until Jan. 31 to get some version of his bill through the state Senate or it will die for this legislative session – unless it’s resurrected via a new bill number later this year.

Wiener doesn’t want to bother with that because of the urgency in the housing picture, where more than 140,000 Californians have no homes and must sleep in cars, doorways or mass shelters in armories and other public buildings on cold winter nights. More than half the state’s families also cannot afford to buy the median California home, whose price now tops $500,000.

Wiener sees more housing as the solution, which makes him a natural ally of Gov. Gavin Newsom, who wants about half a million new units constructed in each of the next seven years, but saw less than one-third that many built during his first year in office.

Yet, Newsom has not backed Wiener’s bill, perhaps because it offends too many present homeowners, who represent a powerful voting bloc that could unseat him in 2022 if he crosses them.

But the newest version of SB 50 is neither as onerous nor quite as dictatorial as previous ones, which mandated approvals for unlimited five-to-eight story apartment or condominium buildings within half a mile of light rail stops and four-floor structures along major bus routes, regardless of what neighbors and local officials might want.

The newest version gives cities and counties two years to develop their own plans for more housing, letting them site higher buildings in some places and lower ones in others, so long as they total enough new units to suit the state’s housing department. It also would let cities encourage new “granny” units in backyards. Meanwhile, the housing department has already forced some local officials to okay adding enormously to their housing stock by suing them or threatening them with loss of funds from the state.

Wiener’s wide coalition of supporters includes the American Assn. of Retired People, developers, construction unions, realtors, the Yes In My Backyard (YIMBY) organization of urban liberals and a host of environmental groups, plus the main Los Angeles area chamber of commerce and now even a few mayors.

“The changes (in) SB 50 give cities a broader menu of options,” said Brian Hanlon, CEO of California YIMBY.

“…it’s striking to see what an existing state mandate by itself – without SB 50 – could do to just one city during this new decade. One analysis says the existing law could force Santa Monica, a three-mile-square city of 92,000 facing the Pacific Ocean and surrounded on its other three sides by Los Angeles, to allow building of more than 9,000 new housing units…”

Tom Elias

Meanwhile, it’s striking to see what an existing state mandate by itself – without SB 50 – could do to just one city during this new decade. One analysis says the existing law could force Santa Monica, a three-mile-square city of 92,000 facing the Pacific Ocean and surrounded on its other three sides by Los Angeles, to allow building of more than 9,000 new housing units in that time, likely adding at least 15 percent to its already crowded streets and neighborhoods.

Local slow-growth advocates vigorously oppose this mandate, accepted as unavoidable so far by city officials. Slow-growthers fear the inevitable impact of SB 50’s added requirements.

So do a lot of other cities and groups of local activists interested in preserving California’s longtime lifestyles.

A collision appears inevitable, but was averted last year when one lawmaker used an obscure rule to stymie SB 50. No one is quite sure what might happen now, with pressure to solve housing problems building every day.

Email Thomas Elias at tdelias@aol.com. His book, “The Burzynski Breakthrough, The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government’s Campaign to Squelch It” is now available in a soft cover fourth edition. For more Elias columns, visit www.californiafocus.net

Related Posts

New Street Furniture Program Coming to Bus Stops Across Los Angeles

August 4, 2021

August 4, 2021

StreetsLA is debuting a new program adding shade, seating, and other amenities to bus stops across Los Angeles. Brought to...

New Renderings Revealed for Future Multi-Use Building on La Cienega blvd

August 4, 2021

August 4, 2021

The SHop will be a multifamily housing and office space replacing the self-storage facility on the corner of La Cienega...

New West LA High-Rise Apartment Building Reaches its Final Height

August 4, 2021

August 4, 2021

“The Landmark” is the tallest apartment building West of the 405 and the first new high-rise built in the last...

Santa Monica’s UCLA Hospital Ranks No. 1 in State, No. 3 in Nation

August 3, 2021

August 3, 2021

Highest set of rankings ever for UCLA Health  By Sam Catanzaro UCLA Health hospitals have ranked No. 1 in both...

La County Health Lifts Water Advisory For Santa Monica Beaches: Santa Monica Beat – August 2, 2021

August 2, 2021

August 2, 2021

Local news and culture in under 5 minutes. * La County Health Lifts Water Advisory For Santa Monica Beaches *...

Man Killed in Santa Monica Hit and Run

August 2, 2021

August 2, 2021

Fatality occurs early Monday morning on Santa Monica Boulevard By Sam Catanzaro A man was killed in a hit and...

Millions of Gallons of Partially Treated Sewage Continue to be Discharged Into Santa Monica Bay

August 2, 2021

August 2, 2021

Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant still not operating at full efficiency following July spill  By Sam Catanzaro Three weeks after a...

Library Director Patty Wong to Leave Santa Monica

July 30, 2021

July 30, 2021

Santa Monica Public Library (SMPL) Director Patty Wong announced recently that she will leave Santa Monica to take on the...

City Council Prioritizes Housing for Historically Displaced Households

July 28, 2021

July 28, 2021

At its meeting on July 13, Santa Monica City Council made changes to Santa Monica’s Affordable Housing Production Program and...

Homeless Man Charged with Hate Crime in Assault of Korean Woman in Santa Monica

July 27, 2021

July 27, 2021

Melvin Taylor faces charges in connection to July 23 incident By Sam Catanzaro Hate crime charges have been filed against...

Homeless Advocate Arrested Near Shelter on Suspicion of Dealing Drugs, Claims no Wrongdoing

July 27, 2021

July 27, 2021

65-year-old Garry Featherstone accused of selling meth, PCP By Sam Catanzaro A self-described homeless outreach advocate was recently arrested near...

Off Leash Dog Park And Picnic Area Coming To Downtown Santa Monica: Santa Monica Beat – July 27, 2021

July 27, 2021

July 27, 2021

Local news and culture in under 5 minutes. * Off Leash Dog Park And Picnic Area Coming To Downtown Santa...