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) SB 6 jettisons local planning, letting 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 contained a blank space FOR MONTHS where affordable housing was supposed to have been promised. Still blank.
SB 8 (ATM for Developers) In 2019, legislators approved SB 330, a litigation & luxury housing law that jams luxury housing into areas that need housing for low-income people. SB 330 is so bad the author had to promise it would “sunset” in 2025. Today, developers wants to extend SB 330 to the year 2030, via SB 8, for obvious reasons: SB 8 requires NO affordable housing; severely cuts public hearings, muzzling sensitive communities; empowers luxury developers to override city plans; lets developers sue taxpayers for up to $50,000 for each luxury unit a city denies; and forces any city that downzone to build a park to upzone some other neighborhood. Let’s not live with this bad luxury housing law until 2030, folks.
SB 9 (Let’s End Homeownership) 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 clearly 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. SB 9 is the beginning of the end of homeownership in California.
SB 10 (14-Unit Buildings Everywhere, by Wiener) SB 10 allows any city council to rezone almost any parcel to allow 10-unit luxury apartments PLUS 2 to 4 ADUs (granny flats), for a total of 14 market rate units, overriding all residential zoning including single-family, and all commercial zoning. SB 10 also allows any city council to overturn voter-approved ballot measures that protect open space, shorelines and other lands — killing a 110-year-old California voter right. SB 10 requires NO affordable units. Like SB 9 — it’s ugly cousin — SB 10 opens neighborhoods to unchecked speculation, housing demolition and destruction of protected lands.
SB 478 (One-bedroom Apartments YOU Can’t Afford, by Wiener) On any multifamily or mixed-use street, a developer can destroy affordable three-plexes or fourplexes to build 14 luxury unit. That’s 10 units plus 2 ADUs and 2 JADUs (granny flats). Bans cities from imposing standards such as a yard that prevent developers from reaching a density of “1.25 FAR” or Floor Area Ratio. Here’s an example under SB 478: A developer can destroy an affordable four-plex to build a 2-story, 6,250 sq. ft. luxury building on a 5,000 sq. ft. lot. SB 478 was written for techies earning $90,0000 to $145,000 a year. SB 478 requires NO affordable units. L.A. residents will notice similarities to “small lot subdivisions” — promised to be affordable but in fact are luxurious $1M+ condos and high-end 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).”