No To Sb50 Not Enough: There Are Other Solutions

By Tom Elias

Listening to the pro-housing passion of Scott Wiener, the Democratic state senator from San Francisco sponsoring what was arguably the most important bill before the state Legislature this year, you become more convinced than ever of the reality of California’s housing problem.

“One of every 20 of our schoolchildren is homeless today because of high rents,” he cries. “People are moving out of state because they can’t afford either to buy or rent anywhere near their jobs. These are among the many human costs of our lack of enough housing.”

He’s right. There is a crisis when the average California family can’t come close to affording to buy a house and vast numbers can’t afford to rent near their jobs.

Wiener uses numbers to illustrate the problem: “When California had 15 million people in the 1950s, we built 250,000 housing units every year. Now we are almost three times as big, but last year we built just 77,000 new units.” That just won’t cut it, he says.

One political consequence: California will almost certainly lose at least one, maybe two congressional seats and electoral votes after the 2020 Census, even if all undocumented immigrants get counted. Housing costs and unavailability are keeping population growth so low this is assured.

Sadly, though Wiener clearly understands the problem well, the solution he offered via his stalled SB 50 zoning nullification bill is the wrong answer. That’s partly because as much as Wiener wants to solve the housing shortage, he wants to end most single-family residential zoning just as badly.

SB50, which cleared two state Senate committees with ease before its delay, would do that. “We have to legalize apartment buildings, condominiums and affordable housing everywhere, not have 80 percent of all our buildable land zoned for only single family housing,” he said the other day.

SB 50 would do that if it returns in its latest form. It allows high-rise building within half a mile of light rail stations and within a quarter mile of frequently-used bus routes. That could make virtually all of Fresno, Clovis, Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego County look a lot like the Castro District of San Francisco, where Wiener has lived more than 20 years, filled with three-, four- and five-story walkups.

Trouble is, many millions of Californians have invested their life savings in single family homes, which lose much of their value when high rises overlook their backyards, as Wiener’s bill would mandate. Even if an area is not now classed as near a frequent bus route, political pressure on transit executives could add one or two new busses per hour to unqualifying routes, enough to make them eligible for unlimited dense development.

Virtually all California cities outside counties with 600,000 or fewer residents (exempted from SB50 because Wiener needed committee votes from some of their state senators) opposed this measure. Meanwhile, it’s clear why building trades unions, the state chamber of commerce and developers dearly love the proposal. It’s all about the bucks for both sides of this issue, homeowners and cities want to preserve their investments, the others seek to create thousands of high-paying new jobs and high-rent apartments.

As destructive as SB 50 would be to the sprawling single-family neighborhoods that attracted vast numbers of today’s Californians to the state, something still needs to be done about the housing shortage.

  • It turns out other solutions would not be nearly as disruptive:
  • Build out the high speed rail project, thus reducing commute times from remote locations where housing is much cheaper than in job centers along the coast.
  • Infill building, where dense housing could be permitted on empty land within urban areas.
  • Compel developers of currently-planned high rise buildings to include more below-market-rate affordable units, both apartment rentals and condos.
  • Offer incentives to companies that move jobs now located in the hyper-expensive Silicon Valley and other coastal counties inland, where land and homes are relatively cheap.

Other creative ideas also exist. Wiener and SB 50 have no monopoly on ideas. Give the measure credit for spurring needed movement and creativity, but making it law would be a whole different, destructive thing.

Email Thomas Elias at tdelias@aol.com. His book, “The Burzynski Breakthrough: The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government’s Campaign to Squelch It,” is now available in a soft cover fourth edition. For more Elias columns, go to www.californiafocus.net

in News
Related Posts

Ulta Beauty Burglary Suspects Apprehended

April 15, 2024

April 15, 2024

Detectives Suspect These Individuals Are Part of a Larger Organized Retail Theft Ring Several suspects in a recent burglary at...

(Video) The LAPD Announces the Arrest of a Suspect in the Horrific Attacks on Two Women on April 6 in the Venice Canal Area

April 15, 2024

April 15, 2024

@palisadesnews The LAPD Announces the Arrest of a Suspect in the Horrific Attacks on Two Women on April 6 in...

Three-Bedroom Home on Bienveneda Ave Selling for $2.5M

April 14, 2024

April 14, 2024

Abundant Natural Light Fills the Interior Spaces This home, located at 864 Bienveneda Ave and selling for just under $2.5...

LAPD Announces Capture of Suspect in Venice Canal Attacks

April 14, 2024

April 14, 2024

Authorities Provide Updates on the Arrest at Press Conference By Dolores Quintana This morning, LAPD Commander Steven Lurie, West Bureau,...

Registration Now Open for Summer at New Roads

April 12, 2024

April 12, 2024

New Roads School is accepting registration for its summer program, a vibrant selection of classes and camps curated to meet...

CodeREV Inspires Kids to Code

April 12, 2024

April 12, 2024

Budding coders, robotics engineers, game developers, animators and STEM campers are invited to join CodeREV this summer for a memorable...

YMCA Santa Monica: When School Is Out, Camp Is In

April 12, 2024

April 12, 2024

As the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District nears its end,  YMCA Santa Monica is setting up for its popular Summer...

Council Advances Plans for 120+ Affordable Apartments

April 12, 2024

April 12, 2024

The Development Aims to Serve Individuals and Families Earning Between 30 to 80% of the Area Median Income The City...

Venice Shorts: Media Trucks Scour Canals After Saturday’s Violent Assaults

April 12, 2024

April 12, 2024

Just How Safe Is Venice? By Nick Antonicello Car vandalism, tool theft, break-ins, property theft, pick-pocketing at the beach, rampant...

Accents Owner Steven Hanna Reflects on Decades Long Legacy

April 12, 2024

April 12, 2024

For 37 years, Accents Jewelry has transcended mere commerce, evolving into a vibrant community, a crucible of creativity, and a...

Earth Day Celebration Coming to Village Green

April 12, 2024

April 12, 2024

Attendees Can Indulge in a Variety of Culinary Delights, Including Savory or Sweet Crêpes From la Crepe du Jardin, Shane’s...

Nationwide Retail Theft Scheme Leads to Five-Year Prison Sentence for Santa Monica Man

April 11, 2024

April 11, 2024

The Man Led a Group That Hoodwinked Department Stores Across 23 States By Zach Armstrong A Santa Monica man was...

Lyft Driver Charged with Sexual Assault Following Investigation

April 11, 2024

April 11, 2024

The Incident Occured in September By Zach Armstrong A Lyft driver who allegedly sexually assaulted a woman last year has...

“New Girl” Actor Sells Palisades Abode for $3.1M

April 10, 2024

April 10, 2024

He and His Wife Undertook a Renovation of the Unique, Two-Story Abode, Transforming It Into a Picturesque Beachfront Dwelling Actor...

Homeless Man Threatens Lifeguard With Rod, Shuts Down PCH Traffic While Perched on Cliff

April 10, 2024

April 10, 2024

The Incident Halted Traffic for Over an Hour By Zach Armstrong A homeless man was arrested by authorities on Monday after...

Comments
Leave a Reply