ANALYSIS OF SB 50’s AMENDMENTS (of January 6, 2020)

SB 50’s amendments do not alleviate the bill’s negative impact on California’s cities, communities, and residents. 

The amendments do not address these top four key concern of voters.
Affordable housing: SB 50 does not require a single unit of affordable housing for any development of up to 20 units. An overwhelming percentage of likely voters* believe that California has a shortage of AFFORDABLE housing but not a housing supply issue.

  1. Affordable housing: SB 50 does not require a single unit of affordable housing for any development of up to 20 units. An overwhelming percentage of likely voters* believe that California has a shortage of AFFORDABLE housing but not a housing supply issue.
  2. Local control over planning decisions: SB50 overrides local control and mandates increased residential heights, density, and bulk. Residents have no right of appeal when 45 to 75 foot buildings affect their light, air, or privacy. Statewide upzoning will destroy the character of neighborhoods and communities, resulting in displacement and blight. The new SB 50 amendment allowing cities to create their own plan simply delays the implementation of the bill’s upzoning, height and density increases. Why? Any local plan must achieve the same level of upzoning as mandated by SB 50. San Francisco would still be required to upzone 95% of its residential areas.
  3. Unfunded costs: SB50 provides no funding to pay for needed transit and infrastructure costs to support the added population from denser housing. In projects where San Francisco has upzoned for greater density, the City requires additional fees to fund these improvements. Density with insufficient transportation and other infrastructure will destroy many of the qualities that make California a desirable home.
  4. Stripping enforceability of environmental and community laws: SB 50 subjects local agencies and hence the voters of our state to liability for attempting to enforce environmental and community laws. Amended SB 50 tilts the private right of action in favor of developers, potential residents, and development lobbyists.

In addition to these key impacts, some of SB 50’s amendments are worse than the original bill. For example, SB 50 upzones and “streamlines” construction on coastal zone parcels statewide-applying the four-plex upzoning to any area where the population is at least 50,000. That includes all coastal areas under the California Coastal Commission that were previously exempted by the bill.

Finally, SB 50 is redundant. Existing laws already incent more housing and/or allow greater density. Several laws enacted in 2019 allow Accessory Dwelling Units on RH1, 2, & 3 lots – effectively upzoning all residential neighborhoods in California. Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) requires cities to achieve new housing goals by category for market-rate and for three levels of affordable. State density bonuses allow for greater height in return for more affordable units. These are a few of the tools already available for cities to achieve more housing that’s affordable to all.

*Recent poll conducted by Applecart LLC for BetterWayCA

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