Not at All Quiet on the Western Front: SB 50 Updates

Not at All Quiet on the Western Front: SB 50 Updates

We’ve previously covered California SB 50, Sen. Scott Wiener’s second crack (after last year’s SB 827 died in committee last April) at a move to increase density in areas near transit hubs or job rich areas.

This week, the bill has been revised. The major changes to the legislation include:

  • Local agencies shall not disapprove any housing development project for very low, low- or moderate-income households, with a few exceptions in case of bona fide public health or cases where local governments have met their housing goals;


  • Defines housing costs for low-income residents as having a monthly cost equal to 30% of 60% of area median income, and moderate-income residents as 30% of 100% of the median income (with allowable adjustments for family size);


  • A “jobs-rich area” is defined as one with “characteristics…associated with positive educational and economic outcomes for households of all income levels” or one that would allow closer proximity to a jobs-rich area;


  • An inclusionary zoning requirement, where projects with 20 or more housing units must set aside a certain percentage of housing units (between 15% and 25%, depending on development size) to be priced for low-income residents. The number of units to be set aside for very low or extremely low income residents are smaller, but also increase with size of the development; and


  • Delays the implementation of the legislation in “sensitive communities” to allow for the development of “community plans.”


These changes are an interesting comparison to changes made in the drafting process of SB 827, which pared back the scope of SB 828.

Indeed, the addition of such inclusionary zoning (IZ) requirements and delayed implementation for sensitive communities are an excellent way to address concerns that new housing construction is primarily luxury housing (an argument that has a ring of truth but is often misleading).

Be sure to read the folks at YIMBY Neoliberal’s twitter thread covering the San Francisco Planning Commission’s hearing on SB 50 for some quality NIMBYism (if you didn’t plan on drinking heavily this weekend, you’ll want to after seeing this input from the community). Also check out Liam Dillon of the Los Angeles Times’s thread on the changes to SB 50 here.

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By |2019-03-18T06:56:59-07:00March 18th, 2019|Blog, Land Use Regulation|