Following in the footsteps of Senator Scott Wiener’s original “transit-rich housing bonus” Bill 827 which was killed last year, Wiener’s follow-up bill, Senate Bill 50 (SB 50), which would allow for taller residential buildings to rise near transit and job-rich areas across California, has effectively been shelved by the Senate’s Appropriations Committee for at least another seven months.

Amendments to the bill could still be made in the interim, but having just been designated a “two-year” bill by the committee’s chairman, Senator Anthony Portantino, the bill won’t qualify for advancement until the start of the next legislative session in January of next year.  Keep in mind that two-year bills that don’t clear their house of origin by the end of January of their second year (in this case, January 31, 2020) are automatically killed.

Earlier this year, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors passed a resolution opposing the bill which could apply to the city as mapped above, unless it’s amended “to meet concerns from community members and affordable housing advocates.”

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by SomeCallMeE

    The key has colors identified but it doesn’t show what the bold outlined areas with black dotted interior sections represent. Anybody know?

    • Posted by SocketSite

      “Sensitive Communities” where implementation of the bill, if adopted, could be delayed.

      • Posted by Spencer

        The “sensitive communities” is basically the BART line. This is exactly where major upzoning should occur

        • Posted by Jake T

          FWIW, all of Mission St. already exceeds SB50 zoning. Ronen, MEDA, and Calle 24 extortion is what prevents development there.

  2. Posted by Jon

    Thankfully this bill was shelved and will hopefully die. It would ruin CA. Focus on the bigger issues SF faces and stay out of the business of every other city/town in CA. One size does not fit all. I hope Scott Wiener focuses his attention on the homeless and filth of SF. This would not be fixed by SB50.

    • Posted by Jake T

      Bad zoning is very arguably the biggest issue SF faces.

    • Posted by Neighborhood Activist

      Agreed. This is good news for SF. There are definitely cities which are not permitting new housing and which “deserve” to have something like SB50 imposed upon them, but ironically, many of those places would be exempted from the bill’s impact.

      SF needs to a better job of allowing good projects to move forward — the recent project that got killed at the Board of Supes for a minor shadow impact comes to mind — but we do not “deserve” to have all local zoning authority taken away. Lots of appropriate places for denser development exist here, but there are also lots of inappropriate places which would be up zoned under SB50.

      • Posted by Jake T

        Please elaborate on how a budgetary committee pocket delaying a bill with insignificant cost is a win? It effectively uses an administrative move to table debate.

        Now, regarding policy impact on the city. Local control has utterly failed in San Francisco. This is evidenced by housing costs as well as quality. The city has needed to do a better job for nearly three decades now. A stray out of character 60 foot / 4 story building in exchange for sane zoning in more than half the city is a welcome price to pay.

        Contrary to rhetoric, SB50 does not end local control. It just marginally raises the floor of what zoning must allow. 3-4 story buildings are not particularly imposing in a 21st century city.

        Let me ask a specific question: at what point do you think SF deserves to have local control slightly neutered? What about San Mateo and Cupertino?

        • Posted by Gerry

          Oh, you only want to slightly neuter the last vestige of representative democracy we have left. How gracious of you. No housing situation is worth the destruction of local control. Got a San Francisco problem? Create a San Francisco solution. We’ll do the same in our own cities and towns as we see fit.

          • Posted by Jake T

            It’s hard to respond seriously to such an incoherent remark. If you want government to leave you alone to live as you determine fit, move into the Sierra foothills where SB50 doesn’t apply. As a property owner, why don’t you let me do what I see fit with my property and build a 3 story building next to a Muni stop?

            Bombastic claims about the end of representative democracy when talking about law that again only marginally changes minimal requirements on a tiny absolute percentage of the state’s real estate do not deserve serious response. The only reasonable interpretation is cynical – you can’t actually oppose SB50 on such idealistic grounds, it’s just a distraction.

            This is a state where literally anything can be taken to the people for direct vote, and state lawmakers are unable to overturn it without supermajority. If anything, too much representative democracy is the problem we have.

          • Posted by Jake T

            As a total aside to my first comment, I want to point out the irony of a pocket veto on absurd procedural grounds being hailed as protection of representational democracy. 70% of the representatives who’ve had a chance to vote on the bill supported it. We’ve just taken the ability for the rest to vote, and that’s being spun as a protection of democracy!

          • Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

            “No housing situation is worth the destruction of local control.”

            In other words pull up the drawbridges.

            Like it or not but access to jobs and the related necessary housing are regional issues that require the help from cities and neighborhoods. Though the exurbs like Brentwood, Tracy, Hollister, and Aptos are more than happy to create housing, the resulting brutal commutes are a regional shame.

            None of the Bay Area’s cities should stick their head in the sand and ignore what is happening. Anyone who claims that the increased density reduces the quality if life is just selfish and ignoring the pains of the newly arriving workforce.

      • Posted by zig

        What would the Neighborhood Activists and planning gadflies do with their free time if SB50 passed?

      • Posted by ForSerious

        Why not just say BUILD THE WALL instead? We can make SF great again by not letting anyone else in, amirite?

    • Posted by Anonymous

      Housing is the biggest issue that California faces and NIMBY (and often racist) city and town power brokers have spent decades intentionally underbuilding and slamming the door shut on affordability for current and future generations. There’s no more selfish mentality than “I got mine, so who the hell cares what happens to everyone after me”. All this under the absolute BS guise of “character” and “local control”. There are baseline state standards for a huge list of things that are governed by local bodies on a day-to-day basis, and housing construction should not be any different. Outright refusal to address affordability and housing stock should be legally overridden by the state.

      • Posted by zig

        And it is even worse than that because the public spends billions on transportation infrastructure but can’t maximize the investment and these same jurisdictions can’t stop approving commercial/office developments

    • Posted by SocketSite

      The historic basis for SF zoning (particularly single-family home areas) is class and racial segregation. Ending the legacy of intentional exclusionary zoning requires something drastic, which the cowed Board of Supes and homeowner-centric planning commission will never do on their own.

    • Posted by Chris

      I am not sure what Weiner is supposed to do specifically about homelessness in SF? That is an issue for the city to handle in the short-term by building more shelters and using the laws available to have those unable to care for themselves declared incompetent and institutionalized. That said, Weiner’s bill would have indirectly helped the problem in the long-term by permitting much more housing to be constructed in the the city. But, ultimately, homelessness has more to do with mental illness, drug/alcohol addiction, and also issues like domestic violence. These are actually statewide and national problems and there have been many legislative and policy attempts to address them, some more successful than others.

  3. Posted by c_q

    This ‘1/4’ mile and ‘1/2’ mile criteria apparently assumes everyone can fly through the air as it is so uniform along rail lines and near stations (look at that bulls-eye around forest hill) – it should have been based on linear walking distance, and perhaps some consideration for steepness of the walk along the way.

  4. Posted by hundo_p

    We need to give companies strong incentives to move high-paying jobs to places with developable land.

    • Posted by Chris

      There are many places with “developable land,” but they MSU or may not be where people want to live. And, such incentives already exist in the form of tax breaks and outright public subsidies. So, no, we do NOT need more corporate welfare. Companies like Amazon have acted like robber-barons for decades pitting communities against each other for the race to the bottom while they shirk their civic responsibilities and suckle from the public’s teat.

  5. Posted by Backtotheburbs

    Stop building more offices in SF! Why continually add to the imbalance? In times of crisis?
    Because companies WANT offices here and CLAIM they need urban campuses to attract talent?
    In the meantime cost of living and quality of life in SF have even killed that argument …

    Literally thousands of companies in Bay Area without an office in SF, that argument is moot. It sounds more like the execs can only bear to live in SF and hate commuting and public transport! Which is nothing but a new wave of class segregation…

    • Posted by Jake T

      We build offices in SF because that’s what the city needs to stay solvent on its pension obligations. Ironic for a commenter named backtotheburbs advocating for keeping productive industry out of a city.

      • Posted by folderpete

        And yet, with all that extra revenue. all the govmint seems able to do is add more (employees) to the problem.

        Go figure.

        • Posted by Jake T

          For what it’s worth, the number of employees is growing more slowly than the budget. However that’s just a basic sanity check since you’d expect that there’d be some economies of scale to the workforce.

          • Posted by folderpete

            While I don’t have the #s at hand, I suspect the current (and future) employees will be incurring significantly larger pensions (all those 6-figure cops/firefighters/ZSFGH-medics/Drs …) .

            But none of this probably matters, in that DJT and company will figure out a way to bankrupt public pensions and insurance while gleefully filling their own pockets.

            So basically we need the jobs that are causing the gentrification that is the root of the housing ‘crisis’ (40 yo and counting, for SF). (sigh)

      • Posted by Backtotheburbs

        That is disingenuous amidst a couple good years of SF budget surplus.

        Productive industry, now who could that be? You mean the apps that seem to have a lifetime of mere months, or the faux gig economy propped up by ‘competitive advantage through regulation avoidance’? Or the slew of other tech outfits not being able to break even on the order of a decade now? Lots more retirement savings left to pump there, no?

        Of course you must realize that the current ‘boom’ has gutted the city of culture, small businesses, nonprofits, and all walks of life who were set on a life of service and passion but not rewarded amply in our current society. So shame on you for ‘advocating for keeping productive industry out of a city’. We don’t care if a 20 year old E Coast grad can get six figures here out of college — but we do care when decade old, rooted businesses close and degrade quality of life. Not to mention that there is an additional crises in trying to fill positions across many local industries.

        Also your argument untimately points to public employees and civil servants as the root for uncontrolled and illogical development and urban planning. Nice!

        • Posted by Jake T

          Ed Lee courted the tech industry because he saw what was coming. There’s a reason Oakland next door is contorting to justify spending street light electricity money to fix potholes: it has the same structural budget issues of SF without tax rolls from tech.

          Technology companies being some sort of unproductive Ponzi scheme is the most hilarious accusation. It was leveled at Facebook on IPO, yet they somehow manage to print money in their sleep with 80% margins. Claiming that smartphones don’t make life better is a signal of privilege that ignores how they’ve brought computing to billions around the world.

          The reason the sympathetic workers have been displaced is that the city didn’t build enough housing for them. How is that the technology industry’s fault? The capital and development interest was there — current residents just decided they would prefer fewer shadows.

          • Posted by [DW]

            If you’re not paying for an app, you are the product. Most IPOS are bleeding money pits for hedge funds to make more speculative money.

    • Posted by Sierraclay

      “Stop building more offices in SF! Why continually add to the imbalance? In times of crisis?”

      LOL. Yeah, clearly there’s no demand for more office space in SF … oh wait, office rents are at record highs. The fact is your bias is broadcast by your name. There are a lot of people who loathe sprawling, environmentally wasteful suburbia … and if you love suburbia so much, why do you care how much SF is upzoned? Your statements are literally oxymoronic.

    • Posted by Chris

      There have been some of the most rigid limits on new office development in the nation in place in SF since Proposition M went into effect in 1986. All these rules have done is drive out small and mid-sized businesses along with non-profits who can not afford what is now some of the most expensive office space in the nation. Proposition M has contributed to the lack of diversity in SF’s business community, and helped push toward being a one industry town.

      Also, many newcomers to SF do NOT work in the city, and more than a few commute all the way down to San Jose or similar distances.

  6. Posted by not sure why this is in all caps

    Why isn’t SoMa more purple? There are lots of buses there. Is it because the area is already zoned higher than the bill would require?

  7. Posted by SFRealist

    Great news for existing homeowners!

    Terrible news for young people.

    I wonder which group donates more money?

  8. Posted by Sam Walters

    Is not a housing crisis. It’s a overpopulation crisis. More people need to leave California and high housing prices will help to thin the herd.

    • Posted by Jake T

      I’d strongly prefer if the people who actually believe this leave first.

    • Posted by socketome

      Exactly – An Inconvenient Truth.

    • Posted by [DW]

      You are right on the mark. Why was SF’s and most larger Bay Area cities almost constant with small incremental building and population since the world war?

      Supply and demand.

      Disruptive and immediate growth due to businesses without their own housing built , often outside our major cities where social cultural medical and recreational infrastructure, made these workers want to libe in major cities having that. Cupertino has covenants, many cities roll up their sidewalks at dark and the populations clog our byways twice daily going back and forth to cities that have, having earlier had the salaries to push out the businesses and people already living there by “highest bidders win” with housing and so locals moved out further, hollowing out the city, thus closing our freeways and pushing duburb prices and businesses out. And the cycle then repeats.

      It’s a hollowed our city we live in. People drive in from Manteca to drive you door to door in the rain as you exist with no coat nor umbrella and your rideshare pollutes use, public transit suffers in many ways and cannot stay on time with 50k more rideshare cars clogging the streets and idle ing, not observing street safety nor knowing how or where to pull over enough, staying half assed out into the lane not wanting to pull-up to the curb for fear of a new car doors from a vehicle they’re in how to, just to service the rideshare passengers. And they pollute us. Now they want to not talk to the drivers with Uber black, the have/have not dichotomy wishing to treat rideshare s more like a limo.

      So yes. Too many people. Not enough housing. And no place to go. Please don’t bombard this with the idea of going up. Unless up goes up at ocean beach. No talk of a full block of Dolores Park full block of 20 story units with a coffe and dog run. No a tax laden bill winding thru to assess a quality of life district that will have homeowners privatizing what the City hasn’t appropriated enough for these communities.

      • Posted by Jake T

        Post wartime years in the Bay Area saw population growth of double digit percents along with commensurate housing inventory growth. Slow growth since the beginning of time is only one of many misrepresentations in this ramble.

    • Posted by zig

      The jobs are already here so this mentality just pushed out the middle and lower skilled workers. It is basically total nonsense as public policy

    • Posted by Some Guy

      Is the solution to the CA housing crisis — soylent?

      The old-school soylent, you know, the green one. (Not the stuff you can buy today from soylent.com.)

      I’m a owner-of-a-house in Oakland, near a bus line. I classify myself as an OIMBY — OK in my back yard. (Neither strongly-for nor strongly-against.) Viva la intersectionality. If existing categories and acronyms don’t fit, shuck them off and stitch up some new ones.

  9. Posted by [DW]

    Thank stars. WEINER is the same human whom as an SF Supe, rode thru 3 Muni Metro stops with the middle car he and I were on and before he could get off, standing right at the door while we in the rest of the car tried to get to the “stop the car button”, did NOTHING and casually got off at the Civic Center station. Not a leader, not even sensible.

    Sisyphus could not pass such a useless rock more uselessly than this full time Politician, never a Citizen. Retire him the next election. He is too connected to the DCCC.

    Be thankful an ill advised, ill planned disastrous harebrained head in the sky idea for neighborhood disruption and changing forever the character of California, while really doing nothing but lining the pockets of the rich multi national owners and developers of the proposed units, while single family and less dense neighborhoods retain their local dry cleaner, local restaurants and aren’t replaced by high end ,fewer and more expensive storefront street level businesses.

    Retire this man in the next election and you’ll be putting both him out of his and our nightmares.

    • Posted by [DW]

      The Muni Car Door was completely open as it traveled thru the stations and the metro tunnel. And weiner did nothing, reported nothing and made no requests or inquiry to the thankfully now retiring Ed Reiskin, head of Muni. He left that to others. Is that who you want planning your neighborhood? I thought not

    • Posted by Anonymous

      Oh look, more “character” talk. It’s definitely metathesiophobic, and pretty arguably xenophobic. I look forward to you world view and generation being stripped of all decision making power.

    • Posted by Chris

      Ha. Honey, get over it. The worst you can come up with is some trumped up, goofy Muni story? Years later and this is what you cling to? I would have left your petty silliness, too.

    • Posted by SFRealist

      If that’s the worst thing Scott Wiener has ever done, then he’s basically the cleanest elected official in the country.

  10. Posted by Chris Klug

    Progressives against progress.

  11. Posted by [DW]

    Cities, I get, are all about change. But…more people coming into areas not prepared nor having any real solutions [for growth] are doomed to failure. It will never work.

    Quote me one person who ever thinks that building more housing will ever solve our housing crisis. Build in areas that won’t harm the existing social and environmental conditions. We haven’t even begun to discuss the scarcity of open spaces, green spaces, recreational infrastructure or the heat island effect of a green house effect.

    • Posted by Anonymous

      “We don’t have enough housing and building more won’t help that.”

      Digest that.

      • Posted by DW

        Yum
        ‘Too many people and no room to build enough housing”
        — Bay Area association of governments
        Food for thought
        Send Weiner home to civilian life and out of his career as a politician
        Every time he times out he looks for another government job
        Pass the torch. Politics is not a calling , its a short service to the country
        Sometimes politicians never know when to remove themselves.
        That’s what the ballot box is for.

  12. Posted by Frank C.

    Lucifer Weiner will now be punished for this abominable attempt to help undeserving people. I am so glad that I got mine, and whenever I see a ladder coming up near me, I pull it away swiftly. That’s my duty as a superior citizen. I am so tired of people wanting a fair chance, when their inability to find housing is entirely their fault, and of course, no referee should ever attempt to address a market failure….because the market cannot truly fail. Yes, the free market and I are worthy, too bad so many are not.

    This post was satire. I need to say that, for many of those whom the satire targets do not understand satire.

  13. Posted by Gary

    Great news! So glad this horrible bill was shelved, doubtful it will ever make it out. But we must be vigilant and stay organized because the opposition certainly won’t rest. They worship at the altar of “smart growth”. It’s kinda like “clean coal”, a euphemism made up by a PR team that means nothing.

  14. Posted by Mike

    Before we make San Francisco any more crowded and unlivable we need to fix a few things to make everything and everyone move more easily:

    1. BART goes all the way around the bay and up to Marin
    2. Underground major MUNI lines including the 38
    3. Regulate Uber and Lyft like taxis; responsible for 40% of traffic and all the headache they are a disaster. Force them to purchase medallions and reduce cost to $25K
    4. Outlaw AirBNB except in neighborhoods that vote to allow it; my neighborhood is not a commercial district
    5. Put MUNI under citizen control.

    Oh there are plenty of other things to fix but this will get us going. Besides, do you really think there’s that much elasticity in the price of housing? The only way housing costs will fall is with a strong recession/depression.

  15. Posted by Henry

    Question: Why is this bill limited to areas near transit? If it were allowed in other places, you could create a new bus route.

    Answer: people in big houses on half acre lots don’t want tall apartment buildings near them casting shadows on their pools or blocking their views.

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