Home>Articles>Senator Wiener Introduces ‘SB 50 Lite’ Housing Bill to End Single-Family Zoning in CA
Scott Wiener
Senator Scott Wiener. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for California Globe)

Senator Wiener Introduces ‘SB 50 Lite’ Housing Bill to End Single-Family Zoning in CA

‘Senator Wiener should actually meet poorer people and see the neighborhoods in LA he’ll be destroying’

By Evan Symon, May 22, 2020 5:37 pm

On Thursday, final amendments were made to Senate Bill 902, which would effectively end almost all single-family zoning in California.

A ‘lighter’ SB 50

SB 902, written by Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) was designed as a ‘lighter SB 50‘, the controversial dense housing bill that failed in the Senate in January. The bill would allow for grant by-right zoning approval for two, three, and four residential units per parcel, removing all single family zoning.

It would specifically be based around city populations. Any city or town under 10,000 people would have to have two units per parcel in residential zoned areas. Cities between 10,000 and 50,000 would have a minimum of three units per parcel, while cities above 50,000 would need at least four per parcel. Buildings that offered rent in the past seven years can not be demolished under the bill, with rent controlled buildings and places with affordable units being protected from any demolition.

Cities would also be giving greater choice in 10 units and above dense housing. Instead of having forced minimums, it would simply be easier to build high-density housing near transit areas, with cities having the final say based on ordinances being passed or being approved publicly. Environmental review could also be skipped under certain circumstances.

Supporters argue that extreme measures are needed to tackle the housing crisis

Senator Wiener and supporters such as Senator Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) and housing advocates have argued that the state needs to take more extreme measures to stop the housing crisis in California and allow more units to be built to lower overall costs.

Senator Toni G. Atkins. (Kevin Sanders for California Globe)

“To tackle California’s severe housing shortage, we must all pitch in. By authorizing two, three and four units per parcel statewide, and by giving cities a powerful new tool to increase density even more, SB 902 recognizes that we’re all in this together and makes it easier for cities to do the right thing,” said Senator Wiener in a statement earlier this week. “We think this legislation will over time allow for a significant increase in the amount of housing, and will do it in a way that is a light touch. And also in a way where cities have significant latitude in how they do it.”

“Obviously I spent years trying to pass SB 50 and we were swinging for the rafters and it didn’t cross the finish line. But Senator Atkins handled this very wisely. She decided the way to do this was to convene a working group of senators who haven’t been quite vocal, senators who were on both sides of SB 50.”

Senator Atkins also noted that SB 902 was one of several bills that would fulfill her promise of more affordable housing legislation.

“I want to personally commit to each and every one of you, and to the people of California, that a housing production bill to alleviate our housing crisis will happen this year,” said Senator Atkins earlier this week.

Opposition to SB 902 quickly growing

Opposition to SB 902 has grown during the week, with many charging that it could be the end of single-family houses in California and that it would destroy entire neighborhoods. Many neighborhood associations that came out against SB 50 have already voiced opposition to SB 902.

“We have classic houses that are of historic value,” noted Charlotte Davis, who has represented historic neighborhoods in Pasadena and other Los Angeles adjacent cities. “There are entire neighborhoods of single family houses that are all owned by families. Many streets and public services are designed for lower traffic and fewer people. A lot of people want space for gardens and children and pets.”

“SB 902 destroys that. They won’t be knocking down blocks, but it puts a lot of houses at risk for duplexes and triplexes, buildings people do not want.”

“And developers aren’t bound to making everything affordable. For richer neighborhoods it generally stays the same, but for poorer areas it just creates gentrification, which is the last thing they want. That’s largely why SB 50 failed. And now they’re trying to do it again with SB 902.”

Leaders in poorer communities also largely agree.

“We’re very liberal here,” said Los Angeles community advocate Pedro Ramos. “And we pressured our Senator and Assembly member to vote against it.”

“The few new apartment complexes that have gone up here have priced out virtually everyone here. Newer expensive housing goes up in places where affordable housing was supposed to be. And SB 902 doesn’t guarantee cheaper housing, but simply more housing.”

“Especially now with so many people out of work or falling behind on bills. Why would we want even more places with expensive rents? Or buying a duplex with a loan a bank wouldn’t give us?”

“Senator Wiener should actually meet poorer people and see the neighborhoods in LA he’ll be destroying. He’s just thinking about his small area of San Francisco where this kind of bill can make sense. Here, and in most other places in California, it’s terrible.”

“And look, we’re some of the bluest districts in the state. That has to tell you something about how bad it will be for us.”

SB 50 also has increasing opposition from cities which thrive on single-family units or primarily construct and have a market for such homes, with many city leaders already coming out and saying that single-family zoning should remain an option.

SB 902 the crown jewel of housing bills this session

Other housing bills are also up this semester. AB 1279, written by Assemblyman  Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica), would incentivize building denser, more affordable buildings in suburban areas. SB 1385, written by Senator Anna Caballero (D-Salinas), would make it easier for housing to be built on commercially zoned land. But SB 902 is the big bill this session as the successor to SB 50, already building controversy even before its first committee vote.

While Senator Wiener and Senator Atkins remain optimistic of the bills passage, the bill will be difficult to pass because of both Republican and Democrat opposition to the bill, similar to the situation with SB 50. Many law groups, who had planned on a legal challenge in January in SB 50 had been passed, have also indicated that it would be challenged in court if it is passed.

SB 902 is currently set to be heard during the Senate Housing Committee on May 26th and 27th.

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45 thoughts on “Senator Wiener Introduces ‘SB 50 Lite’ Housing Bill to End Single-Family Zoning in CA

  1. This is unbelievable. They’re trying to shove ANOTHER bill (actually two or three) for denser housing down our throats when these very same characters and their cohorts have spent the LAST THREE MONTHS trying to scare the entire population to death with their unprecedented overkill reaction and phony doom-and-gloom death-model fearmongering and rigged numbers and social distancing and masks and societal shutdown and economic disaster over a flu strain? And now they want to (again) propose stacking and packing the population into denser and denser housing? Are you KIDDING? Do these legislators have any idea how angry people are about what has already been done to them and how they have been lied to? But meanwhile Dems like Wiener and the rest of them have managed to frighten and brainwash everyone into an OCD state of making sure they stay far, FAR away from other people.
    The residents of this state didn’t want neighborhood-destroying stack-and-pack stuff BEFORE the COVID panic —— do you really think you have a chance in hell of selling it NOW after what you’ve done to them?

    1. I’ve lived full time in California since 2004. I have come to the conclusion that democrats in the state house actually hate us and want us all to equal…equally miserable and dependent on them for the scraps that fall from the table…like good little dogs.

  2. There’s only one solution. Get everyone of these idiots out of office. We need a total cleansing of the current politicians from Governor Nonsense, Mayor Garbage dump and all the rest. If you vote these crooks back in office we will get of the same x 10. Wake up California!!

    1. Newsom’s opinion will depend on two things: 1) What is in it for him? 2) What his ‘donors’ order him to say.

  3. Of course he’s being paid to do this. But I wonder by whom?
    The why of it is profit of course. California has always been about construction.
    Lost in all of this is the ultimate affect on society. Reference something called “The Behavioural Sink,” aka “The Mouse Crowding Experiment” to see what I mean.

    Also unsaid is that Mr. Weiner – I wonder if he was teased a lot as a child – doubtless thinks that none of this will actually affect him and his his/house property. Regulations are for little people after all, and not him and his friends behind the gates.

    Hopefully, this will be shot down. And Mr. Weiner – I’m trying not to snigger – in the next election as well.

    Just a thought.


  4. A willing populace deserves it’s fate……where does one turn?

    This probe is “The Field of Unicorn Dreams”. Build it, they will have no alternative…..

  5. Brought to you by the same idiots who passed the job destroying law AB5. Their stupidity and arrogance knows no bounds.

  6. This is how the liberal leftists want to solve the problem of their own making, by limiting what you can own and do with your own property. Had they not declared CA a sanctuary state, we wouldn’t have the huge influx of homeless. So instead of reversing their moronic position, they double down in a power grab.
    Sorry, State senator wiener, not only are you incredibly incompetent, you can’t even communicate effectively. I can’t respect a public figure who says “swinging for the rafters” when it’s “swinging from the rafters” and the context in which he tried to use it is incorrect. And I’m supposed to support you when you are inarticulate, uneducated and are proposing a heinous bill?

    1. What? The point of this bill is to remove limits on what people can do with their own property: currently they’re banned from building duplexes and such on it in much of the state. This doesn’t force anyone to do anything they don’t want to, just gives people the right to do what they want with their own land.

      1. If what you’ve suggested were true, that the bill will return control to owners, as it is in cities such as Houston, I would agree with you. However, your opinion is badly misinformed. I just finished reading the text. The intent of this bill is to usher in the stack ‘n’ pack human-warehouse cities called for in the UN’s Agenda 21/2030, AKA Sustainable Development, AKA Technocracy.

        It doesn’t return any control to property owners. Rather, it grants cities and counties the authority to arbitrarily redefine and rezone your property. Once that’s done, the way is cleared to shove you out of your home for whatever Sustainable Development project is in the works through the abuse of Eminent Domain, which is already a serious problem. This thing, if it becomes law, will put an end to private property rights in the state. Middle class housing will be replaced by high end apartment complexes and Section 8 projects, followed by the same filthy, poisonous shanty towns that have grown up on the outskirts of Guatemala City, Mumbai, and the like. That is not the future I want for California. I doubt you do either.

  7. How about just reducing the roadblocks and exorbitant costly regulations that serve as impediments to constructing new housing? Oh, my bad – that might make too much sense and it would reduce the income to the state and local governments which is needed to fund all the crazy, useless programs and regulations.
    The only way I might even think of supporting this piece of legislation is if it was amended to require the first 10 years of multi-unit construction to occur within the gated communities that the politicians and upper crust of society call home. It seems like the laws they pass always apply to everyone else except them.

    1. Tent cities are not enough, now they want to turn the whole state into barios and slums..but you can bet your ass this won’t effect their gated communities.

  8. Wish I could say I am shocked! But sadly, I am not!

    So here we are, with people losing their right to earn a living due to a virus that spreads like wildfire in close quarters and now these so called leaders think it would be an excellent idea to pack 4 structures on a single family lot! INSANITY!

    All great points made here today. May I remind you Wiener has had a lot of experience screwing up once beautiful clean neighborhoods. San Francisco used to be so clean and pristine. I grew up just 20 min south of there. Have ya taken a train ride or bart ride lately? That sh@t just rolls south. Stack and pack allover the bay area. Do you think they even care about the aesthetics of these buildings?
    What about the health and safety of those they claim to want to help? The goal of progressives is to rid this state of suburban areas, they want urban areas dependent on mass transit , they want you out of your cars to save the planet from yourselves, because they know better than us!
    I once again beg voters to vote these guys out, write to your representatives let them know how you feel.

  9. And where are all of these people going to park? Single home neighborhoods’ streets are already packed with cars. Some single families having 5-6 cars and illegal families packing 3-4 families under one roof, they still will do that even if rent drops down because of culture reasons. These geniuses need to think little bit further then the problem that is at hand like adults are supposed to do, unlike kids that have no experiences in life.

      1. Pretty scary. Remember when the fear mongers said California would physically break off into the Pacific Ocean? I think metaphorically we are there.

  10. SB50 is simply a way to legislate tenement housing. Stuff mom and dad and three kids into a tiny house on a tiny lot, then they birth out teenagers and the neighborhood blossoms with cars and kids with no jobs because a bankrupt California has Hoovered up every dollar in the state because too many taxpayers have fled the state in terror knowing, “Yeah, California politicians can make it worse !”

  11. Denser housing makes a virus’s journey much easier. Look at New York. Newsome and his cronies are out of their minds but who can stop them. We have more needy people in this state than those that can make it on their own so we will be lost on this one. I wish I was younger and I would escape to another state that still has a brain.

  12. The conspiracy-theory level of misanthropy, xenophobia and pessimism in the replies is breathtaking. This is about millions of families whose lives have been upended by a devastating, clearly-documented housing crisis. This is about essential workers being unable to live in the communities that they are literally saving every day. This is about California’s working and middle class who are unable to access or afford the housing they need to raise their families and live an abundant life in this great state.

    When you say no to housing you say no to people and you endorse the pain and suffering of all those who can’t say, “I got mine, Jack, tough on you.” People who are well-positioned to save this state economically are being forced out by the artificial scarcity primarily perpetuated by those who purchased their homes decades ago for the same or lesser amount than a middle-income earning family makes today, in about a year. They aren’t contributing very much to the state of California in terms of taxes while making a killing in property values, and should be heavily scrutinized when discussing housing policies now. California needs to rectify 40+ years of saying “No” and start saying “Yes.”

    1. I find it entertaining when there is a disagreement of issues, some on the left resort to shaming attempts by using inflammatory words such as xenophopic, racist, classist and so on.
      What I find more humorous is within the same post, one accuses long time property owners in suburban america as a burden and no longer contributing to society, this reeks of agism. Oh the sweet irony!
      One would argue that longtime property owners and citizens with long standing have already and continue to contribute to society.
      When is it appropriate to say because of someone’s socio economic status they no longer can have a say ? Unbelievable! Btw, they share in wanting a balance or more in the middle!

    2. Yep, kill everyone over the age of 50, then plunder their property, wealth – same thing really, savings, stuff, and sell it to those handy developers standing right there waiting to “develop” said property into tenement housing which increases the tax base dramatically. Imagine that! More money for government through plunder! What a concept.
      Tenements, slums, barrios, favelas, kampong – whatever you call them the net result is the same: rock-ribbed poverty, disease, hopelessness, stagnation, and permanent class warfare which blows up into rebellion and anarchy periodically. The pattern is clear and proven by time. When property rights are usurped the others are not far behind.

  13. There he goes again! Scott Wiener refuses to give up. His SB50 has failed THREE times! Why does he continue? I’ll tell you why: He gets a ton of campaign contributions from developers.

    Cities and/or counties (for unincorporated areas) should be in charge of their own zoning requirements and the state has no right to interfere or to override local ordinances. Addiitionally, homeowner associations will be hindered from representing their communities concerning development in their own neighborhoods.
    It is unconscionable to shift the burden to cities that are already dealing with budget shortfalls to providing additional public safety, utilities, and testing the limits of aging water mains, sewer systems, and landfills.
    SB50 will turn thousands of streets into high-density areas and cities will have absolutely no say. What about areas for trees and side yards, parking requirements for apartments, loss of “historical zones,” no courtyard/balcony requirements, and no requirement for affordable units.
    Even with this alleged “watered down version” impacts include:
    · Destroys single family housing and replaces them with 1-unit “anti-family” buildings
    · Destroys neighborhoods by allowing multiple-family housing n close proximity to single family residential neighborhoods;
    · Forces low-income and other existing residents out of their existing single family homes
    As bad as SB50 will be for property owners, it’s even worse for renters as it worsens the gentrification and displacement crisis.
    California has a housing crisis and SB50 will make it even worse. Cities must retain the ability to enact and enforce their own zoning laws which ideally are based on the needs of their communities. Lack of housing is not a crisis for wealthy residents; it is a crisis for low and moderate-income families. Granting developers carte blanche to build apartments/condominiums through ruining community character, displacing residents, and gentrification is a terrible and immoral means. It’s the worst of slippery slopes by putting zoning decisions in the lap of developers whose carpet bagging ways will destroy our neighborhoods and create more tension between the have’s and have-nots.

    We may not even have a housing crisis in a few short years. California has been losing residents over the last 20 years and will likely lose a Congressional seat after the 2020 census.

  14. For most of the commenters out there: Do you even own your house here? And if you do, what gives you the right to prevent your neighbor who also own their lot, want to make it a quadruplex. I bet you you can’t even tell whether something is SFH or quadruplex, because most real historic neighborhood have plenty of them (build before the current panic) and nobody ever seem to care.

    The very least you could do is to read the bill. The bill proposes ability to home-owners it doesn’t apply to tenant occupied lots.

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