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Livable California Applauds SB 50’s Defeat, Urges Media Fairness and Sacramento Rethinking of Housing


Following the defeat of Sen. Scott Wiener’s market-rate housing Senate Bill 50 this week, we urge journalists to set aside assumptions, stated as fact, that we know to be untrue — the most concerning of these are reports that SB 50’s failure “will hinder” Gov. Gavin Newsom’s effort to speed up housing production.


Zoning is not holding up housing production in California cities. SB 50 and its predecessor SB 827 by Wiener were never about producing more affordable housing.


California cities have vast untapped zoning capacity. Our key regions are roaring toward their state-required housing approval levels by tapping just part of that vast unused zoning capacity. According to the state’s data, we are heading toward an oversupply of market-rate housing.


“We do not have a market-rate housing crisis. We have only an affordable housing crisis,” said Livable California board president Rick Hall, a San Francisco advocate for saving and creating low-income housing in the Mission District.


Livable California urges legislators to now abandon the misdirected focus led by Wiener since 2017. His concepts have been rejected by the senate four times, starting with SB 827.


It is no surprise to see nearly half of the Democrats in the California senate this week say “enough!” to Sen. Wiener. We applaud them.


It’s time to ask Sen. Wiener to stand down and let reasonable legislative voices lead on housing bills. Livable California board member Keith Gurnee, a longtime planner and former San Luis Obispo City Council member, said, “Drafting legislation based on a false narrative with top-down, one-size-fits-all mandates is the wrong solution to the wrong problem.” Livable California board member Isaiah Madison, a planner and community leader in South Los Angeles, said, “Livable California will not support a bill that impedes on community planning practices, especially in historically underrepresented low-income communities and communities of color.”


· Sen. Wiener is trapped in old data, and reality has clearly passed him by.

· California needs about 1.2 million total housing units by 2025, not the 3.5 million touted by Wiener and some media outlets.

· The state’s own data show that most of California’s populous regions will hit or easily surpass state-ordered goals for market-rate housing in 2025.


Wiener’s dominating of the housing debate in Sacramento has left us more than three years behind in creating actual affordable housing. We urge the legislature and the media to focus in 2020 on how to significantly fund low-income housing.