The latest iteration of State Senator Scott Wiener’s plan to jack up housing development near transit centers was again shot down by legislators who fear giving up local oversight to out-of-state megadevelopers.
Both NIMBY and YIMBY Twitter have been on the edge of their seats since about 4:15 p.m. yesterday afternoon, when a vote on Sen. Scott Wiener’s ambitious but divisive SB-50 housing bill was paused to allow more discussion. The bill, which would basically eliminate local zoning restrictions to massively increase the size of housing projects near transit centers (and would essentially up-zone all of San Francisco to allow five-story housing developments everywhere), then failed on its second vote of the day an hour later, according to an SF Business Times reporter furiously live-tweeting the proceedings.
But there would still be yet another vote! Wiener had one last shot this morning at corralling more votes overnight and holding a “reconsideration” vote, which he did, but the Associated Press reports that SB-50 fell short again, as Wiener could not pull together the three more votes he needed by today's deadline for passing State Senate bills.
Yesterday, California state senators turned down #SB50, a measure aimed at greatly increasing housing production near transit — the third time it’s failed. Today is the final deadline if @Scott_Wiener can find 3 votes to resurrect it https://t.co/xMhsutNnd5— Liam Dillon (@dillonliam) January 30, 2020
Sen. Wiener’s office released a statement as soon as it was clear that the bill would falter yet again. “I am deeply disappointed that the Senate rejected SB-50,” said Wiener, who has been on this soapbox for years. “California’s housing status quo is badly broken. Today’s vote perpetuates that dysfunction. While I’m disappointed, I also know that the fight continues. We will not give up until we have put California on a positive and sustainable path to a better housing future.”
The bill’s co-author, Assemblyperson Buffy Wicks, also took to Twitter and expressed her displeasure.
As a co-author of #SB50, I'm incredibly frustrated—as are many of you—that it failed today.— Buffy Wicks (@BuffyWicks) January 30, 2020
We *MUST* pull out all the stops to build new homes if we want to stabilize housing costs & end our homelessness crisis.
Status quo inaction is *not* an option.https://t.co/ba7NSi8gN6
It wasn’t just the third vote on SB-50 in the span of less than 24 hours, it was the third annual version of Wiener trying to pass a housing density transit bill. The New York Times has a long write up on all three previous attempts going back to 2018, when a previous version called SB-827 died in committee. As the Times notes, each version has been shot down by a coalition of “suburbanites keen on preserving their lifestyle and less affluent city dwellers seeing a Trojan horse of gentrification.” They also point out that governor Gavin Newsom did not publicly endorse SB-50, though the LA Times reports Newsom did help Wiener whip votes.
We can all agree that housing costs are driving California’s skyrockting poverty and homeless rates, but SB-50 has no guarantee that it wouldn’t make those problems worse. “It unnecessarily dragnets communities at the frontlines of displacement,” Wiener’s Democratic challenger Jackie Fielder told SF Weekly. “We need density not just for density’s sake but we need density for equity’s sake.”
Don’t call it a comeback.— Scott Wiener (@Scott_Wiener) January 30, 2020
Today I introduced two housing placeholder bills.
Stay tuned! 😉 pic.twitter.com/vmX5ZcbtTD
The third time was not the charm for Wiener, but he’s undaunted on density. Just as we were posting this, he tweeted that he was introducing — surprise! — more versions of the bill.
Image: @kimsondoan via Unsplash