California Affordable Housing Bill Stalls—What Now?

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California is facing a housing shortage, an issue lawmakers are seeking to resolve, but the California state senate has blocked Sen. Scott Wiener’s housing bill, putting it on hold until 2020, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

“It doesn’t mean we’re not going to focus on solving the housing crisis,” said Sen. Anthony Portantino, noting that his committee voted to shelve Wiener’s bill, SB50, until next year. “It just means that this isn’t the right fix at this time to do that.”

“One of the challenges that SB50 had was that it wasn’t nuanced enough for jurisdictions that are already doing the right thing,” said Marina Wiant, VP of Government Affairs for the California Housing Consortium, which promotes affordable housing development. “So much energy has been focused on SB50. Time will tell where the energy will then shift.”

Other proposals, including SB330 by Sen. Nancy Skinner, overlap with aspects of SB50.  SB330 would prohibit cities with high rents and low vacancy rates from placing restrictions on housing construction for the next five years, and bar those cities from capping the number of units that can receive permits, adopting new parking requirements and changing zoning laws to require less dense housing.

Many of these bills are likely to face the same problems as SB50, including opposition from local governments worried about losing control over how their communities grow. Some advocates have stated that with SB50 out of the picture, landlords and builders will have less incentive to strike a deal on preserving low-cost housing and protecting people who live there.

Wiener’s SB50 is unlikely to return to session as tate Senate President Pro Tempore announced that she will “not circumvent the decision” made by Portantino and his Senate Appropriations Committee to delay the bill until 2020.

“Regardless of my own personal feelings about this critical issue, part of my job as the leader of the Senate is to uphold the authority and decisions of committee chairs,” Atkins said in a statement. “Short of significantly amending the bill and limiting its applications in large swaths of the state, there was no path to move forward this year.”





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