If at first: Scott Wiener revises statewide bill to boost residential development

The state senator’s latest version would still allow for dense construction near transit but would also maintain local oversight

Dec.December 04, 2018 09:00 AM
State Sen. Scott Wiener and the Culver City to Downtown LA Metro

State Sen. Scott Wiener has drawn up a new version of his sweeping and controversial bill meant to boost residential development near transit stations, in order to address the state’s housing shortage.

Now called Senate Bill 50, the proposal would still allow for more dense housing construction near transit hubs, while also providing a stronger degree of input from local municipalities, the Los Angeles Times reported.

In its current version, the bill would allow developers to build four- to five-story apartment complexes near major transit options, including Metro stations and some bus stations in L.A. It would let local officials propose alternative residential development plans if they are concerned about gentrification and displacement. The new version also bars developers from using the bill if they plan to demolish properties that renters have occupied in the last seven years.

One new element that may receive pushback: It would loosen zoning restrictions in wealthier neighborhoods or those with high-performing schools, even if there isn’t access to nearby transit. That would ensure that development would be shared among communities like Beverly Hills that have historically blocked dense development.

Critics of the previous version — that bill was called SB 827 —  argued it took away local control over development and put it in the hands of Sacramento lawmakers. The L.A. City Council opposed SB 827.

While the new version has been toned down, Wiener — whose district includes the San Francisco area — maintained that “the heart of the bill is really the same,” he told the Times. SB 827 died a quick death at its first Senate hearing in April. [LAT] — Dennis Lynch

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