The Infamous SB 50 is Hiding in 7 Bad Bills: SB 6, SB 8, SB 9, SB 10, SB 478, AB 1322, AB 1401
Sacramento “trickle-down” housing proponents are trying to revive the divisive pre-COVID legislation SB 50 through a group of 7 bad bills. Without your intervention — meaning you contacting your own senator and your assembly member — many of the 7 bad bills may be approved in 2021.
The ugly SB 50 by Bay Area state Sen. Scott Wiener would have banned single-family zoning, allowed 10-unit luxury apartments on any residential block, and allowed big apartments in low-density communities, all with less parking. The 7 bad bills of 2021 attempt this all over again — by piecemealing.
You are the key to stopping these bills, mostly written by Bay Area legislators trying to fix regional problems by forcing their failing ideas statewide. Within the next week, please send a letter to, and set a time to meet with, your state senator and assembly member, or their district staffs via Zoom or the phone. Go here to look up their phone numbers and emails. If you ask, the legislator or their staff will very likely agree to speak/meet with you.
You haven’t seen these 7 Bad Bills in the news, because our decimated media don’t cover Sacramento much. Yet these bills CUT the legislature’s commitment to affordable housing. They KILL single-family zoning statewide. They allow HIGH-END complexes next to your homes. They KILL parking and small businesses. They TARGET brown and Black areas with upheaval and destruction. They are the 7 bad bills.
Take an aspirin, and read on:
SB 6 (Kill the Mom & Pops, by Anna Caballero) SB 6 jettisons local planning, lets developers wipe out your business & shopping areas to wedge in MORE market-rate apartment blocks. SB 6 targets businesses that have had vacancy problems for 3 years, a gentrification come-on that will kill stores just starting to recover, such as in Crenshaw in L.A., San Bernardino in the Inland Empire, and old-time businesses in The Fillmore. SB 6 insists that density creates “affordable housing,” when in fact density makes housing affordability an impossibility. This bill has had a blank space FOR MONTHS where affordable housing was supposed to have been promised. Still blank.
SB 8 (ATM for Developers, by Nancy Skinner) In 2019, legislators approved SB 330, a litigation & luxury housing law that jams luxury housing into areas that need housing for low-income households. SB 330 is so bad Skinner had to promise legislators it would “sunset” in 2025. She dubbed SB 330 “The Housing Crisis Act” of 2019. If only. Today, fueled by lawyers and developers, Skinner wants to extend SB 330 to the year 2030. SB 8 slashes public hearings, muzzles sensitive communities, empowers luxury developers to override cities, encourages developers and to sue taxpayers for $50,000 for each luxury unit denied, and destroys urban open spaces. What’s not to love?
SB 9 (Let’s End Homeownership, by Toni Atkins and Scott Wiener) Crushes single-family zoning in California, a threat to 7 million homeowners at all income levels. Wiener has called yards and single-family homes “immoral.” SB 9 allows 4 market-rate homes where 1 home now sits (and up to 6 units, if developers use an obscure “two-step” that is allowed by this bill). It requires NO garages and destroys environmentally crucial urban tree canopies and yards. SB 9 requires NO affordable units. It clearly opens all single-family streets to the unchecked, greedy and disruptive investor speculation pouring into the single-family-home market today. Foolish SB 9 is the beginning of the end of homeownership in California.
SB 10 (14-Unit Buildings Everywhere, by Scott Wiener) Allows any city council to overturn voter-approved ballot measures that protect open space, shorelines and other lands — killing a 108-year-old California voter right. Equally horrifying, SB 10 allows any city council to rezone almost any parcel to allow 10-unit luxury apartments PLUS 2 to 4 ADUs (granny flats), overriding all zoning including single-family and commercial zoning, inviting the demolition and gentrification of older, diverse, multi-family and single-family areas. It requires NO affordable units. It’s a mess. Like SB 9 — it’s ugly cousin — SB 10 opens neighborhoods to unchecked speculation.
SB 478 (One-bedroom Apartments YOU Can’t Afford, by Scott Wiener) On any multifamily street, or in any mixed-use business district, a developer can build 14 units — 10 units plus 2 ADUs and 2 JADUs (granny flats). Cities would be banned from imposing any local standard, such as a yard, that prevents developers from building a density of 1.25 FAR. (This bill uses the mathematical formula known as Floor Area Ratio, or FAR. In real terms, it means allowing a two-story, 6,250 sq. ft. apartment building with very small apartment units on a 5,000 sq. ft. lot.) SB 478 was written for techies earning $90,0000 to $145,000 a year. It requires NO affordable units. L.A. residents will notice similarities to “small lot subdivisions” — promised to be affordable but among L.A.’s most luxurious $1M+ condos & airbnbs.
AB 1322 (By Rivas and Ting, this bill has been held until 2022). AB 1322 creates a path for city councils to override housing laws approved by voter initiative. It would fuel a war over voter rights and the corrosive impact of developer money pouring into city council coffers. Empowers any city council to “commence proceedings” to determine whether a local voter-approved initiative “conflicts” with state law, a role for which councilmembers are NOT qualified. Voters would be forced to prove, in court, an “abuse of discretion” if a city council overrode voters. A BIG hurdle. To say AB 1322 violates the constitutional premise of separation of powers is an understatement.
AB 1401: (Just Take the Bus! by Laura Friedman) Bans cities from requiring parking in new developments unless it’s more than a ½ mile walk to transit. This is non-starter for young children, the elderly, those who take equipment to jobs, parents who take children to school, those who juggle work/school. We will see worse congestion/pollution as people fight for a spot. Use of Uber and Lyft will surge. Worst of all, it slams the poor, creating an economic barrier to affording a car — the strongest tool for escape from poverty. Urban Geography, “The Automobile, Immigrants and Poverty (2010),” reports “The automobile is a critical factor in moving from welfare to work”; Urban Institute, “Driving to Opportunity (2014)”; UCLA’s Evelyn Blumenberg, Lewis Center for Regional Policy Studies: “Car Access and Long-Term Poverty Exposure (2017)’; “The Drive to Work: the Relationship Between Transportation Access, Housing Assistance and Employment (2017).”