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California’s Housing Reform Bill Fails in the Senate

California Senate Bill 50, which aimed to increase housing density and supply across the state, failed to receive the 21 necessary votes on Wednesday to reach the State Assembly, according to the Los Angeles Times. 

This is the third consecutive year this legislation stalled on the Senate floor. Senate Bill failed passage by three votes. 

The bill hit a roadblock late last year, when 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 Times reported last year 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 have allowed homeowners to convert a garage, office, or spare room into living quarters. The new legislation also had a provision for allowing 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.

Nine Los Angeles-area senators voted no or abstained. The bill’s author, Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) said he planned to try and bring the bill back for another vote on Thursday—deadline for passage out of the Senate. 

According to the report, Sen. Bob Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys) said SB 50 could increase development across Los Angeles, but noted it wrongfully targets local government officials and single-family homeowners in an attempt to alleviate the state’s housing woes. 

“ There may be some merit to this notion in limited circumstances, [but] this sweeping generalization both oversimplifies the problem and unnecessarily demeans people who have done nothing more than make homes for themselves, raise a family and play by the rules,” Hertzberg said.

In a further attempt to allow more affordable housing, voters in San Francisco will cast their ballot in March on Proposition E, which would cap office development if affordable housing standards are not met. 

San Francisco currently has a cap of 875,000-square-feet of office development annually, due to 1986’s Proposition M. 

However, if San Francisco misses affordable housing targets by 10% annually, the existing office-space cap would fall 10% the next year.

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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