Near Transit Housing Bill Wipes Out California Assembly Committee – Courthouse Press Service

State Senator Scott Weiner said his housing bill was aimed at increasing dense development near transportation hubs in California, approved by a legislative committee.

Apartments in Salinas, CA, in 2018 (AP Photo / Jae C. Hong)

(CN) – State Senator Scott Weiner’s bill to increase density near transit hubs in California cities and counties won the approval of colleagues in a Tuesday committee session California Assembly Housing and Community Development.

Senate Bill 10 give cities and counties the ability to reform their zoning in high-transit areas of their jurisdictions with the goal of reducing the importance of single-family homes in favor of multi-family homes and apartment complexes. The theory of positioning multi-unit homes close to public transportation is that residents could take transit and would not contribute to the state’s infamous traffic congestion problems.

“Getting cities and counties to focus and fill in transit-rich urban areas by giving cities a voluntary tool,” Weiner said when introducing the bill.

The San Francisco Democrat stressed that the zoning program would be voluntary, as local jurisdictions bristled in previous iterations of the bill that made proposed zoning changes mandatory.

“What I have heard from my constituents is that they understand there is a housing crisis, but they believe in local control,” said MP Jesse Gabriel.

Weiner has introduced various permutations of the housing bill over the past two years, but after the last one was ruled out, Weiner sought to make the law more of a tool for local governments interested in solving the housing problem. in California and less of a hammer to punish them.

Zach Hilton, a firefighter and Gilroy City Council member, said he became a housing advocate because he couldn’t afford to live in the community he serves.

“There is a growing class of low-income commuters who cannot access housing within hours of working,” said Hilton.

Many housing advocates argue that California’s homeless crisis is linked to the lack of affordable housing options, which is in part caused by low inventory creating upward pressure on prices, whether for the rent or property.

Bill Brand, Mayor of Redondo Beach, argued that SB 10 would not create more affordable housing, but would instead lead to a proliferation of luxury housing due to the incentives given to developers.

“It’s environmentally irresponsible and doesn’t deal with affordable housing,” he said.

Brand also noted that SB 10 allows jurisdictions to bypass the California Environmental Quality Act, which analyzes the environmental impact of development.

“CEQA is an important tool for enabling growth without destroying our quality of life,” Brand said.

But Weiner said the zoning changes only apply to areas that are already developed and do not apply to open spaces and other undeveloped areas.

“This is an anti-sprawl bill,” he said.

In the end, most of Weiner’s colleagues voted to send the bill out of committee, with some saying the bill encouraged responsible housing development without sacrificing local control.

“This makes it easier for cities to allow moderate density infill housing,” said David Chiu, chair of the committee.

In previous years, Wiener’s proposals faltered in the face of opposition from Republicans and Democrats who feared that a state mandate would remove control over housing decisions from local officials. For example, critics introduced a previous bill that would have lifted zoning restrictions to allow affordable multi-story housing near transit centers as an “attack” on single-family neighborhoods.

But Wiener and his supporters love California YIMBY, say easing low density laws that have been in place for decades is the fastest way to make a real dent in the state’s housing shortage. They argue that it would also have the added benefit of slowing down urban sprawl and that building near public transport would reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

After Wiener’s Bill was defeated last year, State Senator Toni Atkins called on lawmakers to continue brainstorming while Gov. Gavin Newsom urged the Legislature to send him a “draft of historic law on the production of housing ”.

Newsom said during the election campaign that he wants the state to create 3.5 million new units by 2025 and improve California’s ranking 49th out of 50 in housing units per capita.

This time around, Atkins is vowing to make housing reform a staple of the Senate’s overall agenda once it resumes in January. She is sponsoring three bills, including one that would make it easier for homeowners to create duplexes and quads in single-family neighborhoods.

The committee considered other housing related bills on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 9 streamlines the process owners must follow to obtain approval for duplex projects and builds on similar efforts by state and municipalities to spur the development of accessory guesthouses or casitas.

Another part of the package would allow residential projects on certain commercial lots, including linear shopping centers.

Citing a continued increase in the number of vacant homes, State Senator Anna Caballero said her bill would give cities creativity to meet their housing production targets. she predicts Senate Bill 6 will particularly benefit agricultural worker communities by leading to new pedestrianized neighborhoods near shopping centers.

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