State Senator Scott Wiener revived a major effort to boost homebuilding near transit last month. Senator Wiener believes Senate Bill 50 (SB 50) is necessary to address the state’s housing affordability and climate change challenges that have increased since a similar bill he proposed earlier this year failed.  Under SB 50, developers would be allowed to build four to five-story apartment complexes in neighborhoods surrounding places such as Los Angeles Metro stations, Bay Area Rapid Transit and other rail stops around the state. The bill would also ease some local restrictions on building homes near frequently used bus stops. Senator Wiener stated the following regarding SB 50,

The heart of the bill is really the same. We have a 3.5- million-home deficit in California. It’s undermining our economy. It’s undermining our climate goals. We have to be bold in solving this problem.

Senator Wiener’s previous attempt to boost homebuilding near transit died in a legislative committee after local governments, labor groups and advocates for low-income residents spoke out against the bill. A notable difference in SB 50 from Senator Wiener’s previous bill is that it blocks developers from using the bill if they planned to knock down properties that renters had occupied within at least the previous seven years. SB 50 also loosens local zoning restrictions in communities with high median incomes, quality schools and short commutes to jobs, even if there isn’t access to transit nearby, which is an effort to push development into wealthier areas that might have previously resisted it. We will have to wait and see if this bill manages to get passed through the legislature and if Governor Newsom will sign it into law.

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