Scott Wiener’s SB 50 Housing Demolition Bill, a Credibility Crisis with Social Justice California

 By Jill Stewart 

State Sen. Scott Wiener, author of housing bills SB 50 and SB 827, faces a credibility crisis after convincing The New York Times and California media that he “learned his lesson” when his SB 827 went down in flames.

In December, Wiener announced he was working with top social justice groups to assure that his new bill SB 50 had a heart. Top media ran stories based on Wiener’s leak — he said he was working with a key social justice group, ACT-LA, to protect the working-class by crafting a “gentler” SB 50.

But talks between Wiener and ACT-LA quietly fell apart long ago. Now he faces a growing credibility gap. Wiener’s SB 50 wrongly targets thousands of middle-class, poor, well-off and historical residential areas, by rewarding developers who buy out and demolish thousands of vibrant neighborhoods to make way for outsized apartment towers with zero parking or “setbacks.”

At an L.A. Affordable Housing Commission hearing on March 20, a packed room was stunned when ACT-LA dispelled the notion that Wiener was working with them. A spokeswoman said ACT-LA hadn’t heard from Sen. Wiener “for quite a while” and Wiener “did not meet our requests.”

Asked by a city official what ACT-LA would do if Wiener ignored them, the ACT-LA spokeswoman said, “We will either be neutral or opposed.” A few days ago, ACT-LA went public, slamming key aspects of SB 50.

PoliticoNYT and other major media in December effectively killed serious analysis of the bill by mainstream media, by asserting as fact that SB 50 was a gentler, humane version of SB 827. SB 50 is far more extreme.

On Tuesday, the California Senate Housing Committee will vote on this bill, which some legislative aides say not all legislators understand. Social justice and non-profit groups have strived to get out word about the bill’s opaque and misleading “Russian nesting egg” layers, by publishing rounds of infographicssearchable mapscharts, and analysis.

In coming days, top social justice groups will oppose SB 50. It is fatally flawed, rewarding developers who overrun vibrant residential areas, gutting them for towers up to 85 feet (8 stories) in height. SB 50 targets all community types, from mansions in Larchmont to “starter homes” in Boyle Heights, South L.A. and S.F. Valley — our crucially valuable working-class homes that are the No. 1 path to joining the middle-class in America.

Tomorrow, Cesar Chavez Day, the Coalition to Preserve LA will release its list of SB 50 Most-Threatened Towns & Communities in California based on this searchable, zoomable “SB 50 Wipeout Zones Map.” (Find your neighborhood or your own home on the map.)

Topping the list of SB 50 Most-Threatened Towns & Communities will be a 43% homeowner community known globally, honored by Hollywood, for the resilience of its mothers and families who resisted gang wars, drug cartels and freeway-builders: East Los Angeles.

East L.A. has survived it all. But it very likely will not survive San Francisco state Sen. Scott Wiener, if SB 50 is made law.