Strength in the suburbs: Homeowners played central role in opposing housing bill

Single-family homeowners said SB 50 would “destroy” character of their communities

May.May 22, 2019 05:00 PM
State Senator Anthony Portantino and Glendale
State Senator Anthony Portantino and Glendale

A proposed statewide housing bill faced broad opposition, particularly in Los Angeles, but it was single-family homeowners who appear to have had the most influence in squashing it.

Suburban homeowners played a central role in state Sen. Anthony Portantino’s decision last week to shelve the bill, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Called SB 50, the bill would have allowed four- to five-story multifamily projects near mass transit stations. A late amendment would have permitted duplexes, triplexes and fourplexes to rise in communities zoned for single-family homes, likely setting off alarm bells.

Opponents rallied against the bill — which was pushed by state Sen. Scott Wiener — on the grounds that it usurped local control over zoning issues, and would “destroy” the character of their low-density neighborhoods. L.A. sent lobbyists to fight the bill last month, largely on the same reasons.

Last week, Portantino — representing low-density areas including Glendale, Burbank, Pasadena and La Cañada Flintridge — declared the legislative committee he chairs would not debate the bill until 2020.

Advocates for SB 50 claim that single-family zoning is exacerbating the housing crisis. L.A. County alone is short half a million affordable homes to meet demand.

Susan Kirsch, the founder of a Northern California organization that opposed the bill, said fast-growing tech companies were to blame for the state’s housing crisis because they did not build affordable housing to offset the increase in home values that growth perpetuated. [LAT]Dennis Lynch 

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