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California Lawmakers to Debate Reformed Housing Bill

San Francisco, California, USA city skyline.

California lawmakers will debate—for the third time—a resurrected Senate Bill 50 that was introduced on Monday, which could “radically” increase housing and higher density, according to a report from the Los Angeles Daily News

Previous versions of the bill, authored by State Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), have been rejected due to local control concerns and the proposal was delayed by the Senate Appropriations Committee late last year. 

The report states some developers and “Yes in My Backyard” organizations back the strategy, including San Fernando Valley groups Pacoima Beautiful and Pacoima Community Housing Corporation. 

Under SB 50, communities in California would see increased housing development in densely populated areas and lower-density neighborhoods would be mandated to allow four or five-story apartment buildings near rail lines and smaller apartments and townhomes near job centers. 

The bill would also allow “virtually any homeowners” to convert an existing single-family home to a duplex, triplex, or fourplex regardless of where they live remain unchanged. 

Updates to the bill would give cities and counties two years to develop their own plans to improve development in their communities—zoning for the same amount of housing required by SB 50—before the state mandates for greater housing density takes effect. 

“We’ve heard loud and clear that cities want the flexibility to implement this kind of legislation in a way that works best for them,” Weiner said in a statement to the Los Angeles Daily News,  adding that he is “increasingly optimistic” he can move the legislation forward this year.

This legislation comes at a time where California—and the rest of the nation—grapple with an affordable housing crisis. 

A report by Redfin in December found that the Golden State was home to eight of the nation’s top-10 metros for home price increases in dollar value over the past decade. San Francisco had the highest increase, growing from $698,000 in 2010 to $1.4 million at the end of 2019.

The San Francisco Chronicle recently published a report, revealing that a new survey of more than 100 economists believe the Bay Area housing market has priced itself out of reach. 

Citing a survey by Zillow, economists predicted San Francisco to have the worst housing market in the coming year as 64% believe the market will underperform in 2020. San Jose was a close second at 61%. 

About Author: Mike Albanese

A graduate of the University of Alabama, Mike Albanese has worked for news publications since 2011 in Texas and Colorado. He has built a portfolio of more than 1,000 articles, covering city government, police and crime, business, sports, and is experienced in crafting engaging features and enterprise pieces. He spent time as the sports editor for the "Pilot Point Post-Signal," and has covered the DFW Metroplex for several years. He has also assisted with sports coverage and editing duties with the "Dallas Morning News" and "Denton Record-Chronicle" over the past several years.
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