Divisive housing bill dies quick death in first State Senate committee hearing

Sen. Scott Wiener vows to return next year with revised proposal to promote transit-adjacent housing

State Senator Scott Wiener and a Metro train
State Senator Scott Wiener and a Metro train

So much for that.

After months of debate, a sweeping bill to allow dense housing to be built near transit met a swift end in Sacramento on Tuesday.

The State Senate’s Transportation and Housing Committee voted down Senate Bill 827 in the divisive measure’s very first committee hearing, Curbed reported. The goal of the bill was to alleviate the housing shortage and promote affordability across the state, particularly in expensive cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Following the hearing, the bill’s author, State Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), said he would revise the measure and “develop a strong proposal for next year.”

“I have always known there was a real possibility that SB 827 — like other difficult and impactful bills that have come before — was going to take more than one year,” he said in a statement.

The bill has been a topic of heated debate around the state since Wiener first proposed it in January, and he softened the proposal earlier this month amid strong criticism from opponents.

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Late last month, the Los Angeles City Council claimed SB 827 would strip the city of its mandate to decide its own zoning. And Mayor Garcetti said the proposal didn’t do enough to protect affordable housing and would negatively impact the city’s less dense neighborhoods.

In the watered-down version of the bill, the maximum height for residential buildings allowed near transit was reduced from eight stories to five, more protections for affordable housing were incorporated and its effective date was pushed back from 2019 to 2021. Some accused Wiener of “neutering” the bill, according to Curbed.

The law would have impacted urban centers like Los Angeles most heavily. Entire neighborhoods with ample transit like Koreatown and South L.A. would undergo a sweeping zoning change, and an L.A. Times analysis found that 190,000 parcels across the city would be impacted.

Proponents say the bill would have also created a strong supply of new homes, which would drive down the price of existing housing.

It’s not the only bill Wiener has on deck. His proposed SB 828 bill would expand a 50-year-old law to require local municipalities to zone twice as much land for apartments and condos for very low- and low-income Californians. [Curbed] — Dennis Lynch