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Housing Legislation Stalls in California

San Francisco, California, USA city skyline.

The future of a California bill that would allow higher-density zoning in residential areas has stalled amid the state’s efforts to address its affordability and inventory issues, according to the California Globe. 

SB 50 would allow larger and denser housing near transit and in residential areas. Approval would limit the ability of local governments to reject housing that met standards set forth by the state. 

Sen Anthony Portantini, the Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee came out against SB 50 earlier this year. He said the measure would have trumped zoning rules that are “exclusively under the control” of cities and counties. 

The measure will not be eligible for another vote until 2020. 

In its efforts to alleviate rising home prices and inventory, California lawmakers passed several bills recently, chipping away at single-family zoning, making it easier for homeowners to convert garages into residential spaces and build freestanding homes. 

A report by the Los Angeles Times says that California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed multiple bills into law this week that allowing property owners to build a backyard home of at least 800-square-feet. The bill would also allow homeowners to convert a garage, office, or spare room into living quarters. The new legislation would allow for three homes on land previously zoned for single-family. 

“We’re on the precipice of single-family zoning functionally not existing,” said Ben Metcalf, former Director of the state’s Department of Housing and Community Development.

U.S. Census Data found that nearly two-thirds of California residences are single-family homes, according to the Los Angeles Times. University of California-Berkeley's Terner Center for Housing Innovation revealed that between half and three-quarters of the developable land in most of the state is zoned for single-family housing. 

Silicon Valley is doing its part in recent weeks, as companies like Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Apple have announced plans to fund affordable housing initiatives. 

Apple released the most recent plan, pledging to invest $2.5 billion to address California’s affordability crisis. 

“Before the world knew the name Silicon Valley, and long before we carried technology in our pockets, Apple called this region home, and we feel a profound civic responsibility to ensure it remains a vibrant place where people can live, have a family and contribute to the community,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “Affordable housing means stability and dignity, opportunity and pride. When these things fall out of reach for too many, we know the course we are on is unsustainable, and Apple is committed to being part of the solution.”

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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