With 2018 coming to a close, TechEquity Collaborative invited Senator Scott Wiener and newly elected Assemblymember Buffy Wicks to discuss their plans for housing policy in the new year, namely SB 50, Wiener’s newly revamped senate bill to incentivize densifying housing near transit-rich areas. The bill was co-authored by state Sen. Nancy Skinner of Berkeley and Assemblymember Buffy Wicks of Oakland.
A similar bill, SB 827, failed earlier this year in committee and was criticized for a lack of input from stakeholders into the bill’s creation. This time around, Wiener said, he’s made changes to the bill that have swung some opponents of SB 827 in favor of SB 50.
Wiener said the bill now includes tenant protections, like banning the demolition of buildings that are occupied by renters and requiring housing for mixed income levels, including affordable housing. But to some, so-called “affordable” housing is still too expensive, and the new housing being built in the Bay Area is no help to those already struggling to pay rent here.
“For people who are low income we’d have to significantly ramp up subsidized low income housing,” Wiener said. But with SB 50, he is focused on helping the middle class stabilize, live closer to where they work, and stay housed. He said when it comes to housing in the Bay Area, particularly San Francisco, “the housing doesn’t attract people; people come here because they want to be here.” And the area was not prepared to house the influx of people it is receiving.
San Francisco Mayor London Breed, along with several other California mayors, has voiced her support for Wiener’s new bill, saying “San Francisco, along with the entire Bay Area, needs to create more housing if we are going to address the out-of-control housing costs that are causing displacement and hurting the diversity of our communities.”
Other supporters include Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, Emeryville Mayor John Bauters, Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.
SB 50 is still early on in the legislative process, and we can expect to hear much more about it in the new year.
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