|(April 24, 2019, 2:20 p.m.) -- As linked LIVE this morning (April 24) on LBREPORT.com, the state Senate's Finance and Governance Committee signaled its approval (final tally pending) to advance SB 50 with amendments that leave intact its key portions, including sweeping state preemptions of cities' local zoning authority regarding housing.
SB 50 by state Senator Scott Wiener (D, SF) focuses on overriding local single family home zoning within areas along specified rail/bus transit routes as well as in areas Sacramento deems "jobs rich" (with current residents' income at or above median and near quality schools.) In those areas, SB 50 would replace locally-enacted single family home zoning with Sacramento standards allowing, and in some cases incentivizing, multi-unit residential buildings (apartments or condos or other housing.)
Our coverage below is based on Committee statements; the amendments' written text wasn't publicly available prior to the hearing (a process criticized as non-transparent by some public speakers.) Committee chair Sen. Mike McGuire (D, Santa Rosa/No. Cal coast) indicated written text would be distributed at 1 p.m. to those in a hallway outside the Committee hearing room.
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As indicated in the hearing, for counties with populations over 600,000, SB 50 will include the following amendments and will be blended with some portions of SB 4.
Sen. Wiener said SB 50 is part of the bigger housing picture and other housing-related bills that he supports are now advancing that will provide funds to produce affordable housing as well as provided tenant displacement and renter protections.
Senator McGuire (who'd co-authored the more modest preemptive measure, SB 4) said the amendments to SB 50 distinguish between counties above and below 600,000 population to reflect Governor Newsom's caution that housing solution shouldn't be "one size fits all." [Gov. Newsom hasn't publicly indicated his stance on SB 50.] SB 4 co-author Sen. Beall said he supports SB 50 and said he hopes the amendments to SB 50 will have Governor's support.
State Sen. Bob Hertzberg (D, L.A./San Fernando Valley) pushed back against SB 50, noting that the Los Angeles City Council had voted unanimously (12-0) to oppose it. Sen. Hertzberg called Governor Newsom's current proposal to use surplus state lands for housing an "elegant" approach, and Sen. Hertzberg said he respectfully doesn't agree with Sen. Wiener's approach.
Following Sen. Hertzberg's criticism, Sen. Beall said SB 50 needs to be part of a housing "package" of bills, said funding is needed to produce affordable housing, as well as tenant and renter protections, and without a package of measures to address all the issues, legislative conflicts will continue.
SB 50 now goes to the state Senate Appropriations Committee hearing (review limited to state budget impacts), then to the state Senate floor. If it receives majority approval in the Dem-majority state Senate, it will go to the Dem-majority Assembly where the process repeats. If it clears the Assembly, it will return to the state Senate for another vote if it's been amended in the Assembly. It will then go the Governor who could sign or veto it.
Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia (who doesn't set LB policy) has been publicly mum SB 50 and LB's policy-setting City Council has failed to take a voted position thus far on the bill (which Sen. Wiener introduced in December 2018.) In late 2018, the Council approved a "2019 State Legislative Agenda" (general policies that the City Council votes annually to approve) that includes verbiage reciting that the City of LB will "Oppose legislation that would reduce the City's local land use authority" and "Oppose legislation that preempts the City's existing control over local matters." City staff traditionally prepares letters for the Mayor's or City Manager's signatures taking positions on state legislation consistent with positions approved in the Council-adopted "State Legislative Agenda." A City Councilmember(s) can also separately agendize a Council vote on a specific bill, which has taken place on high visibility measures.
In March 2018, the Council amplified that stance with an explicit vote (without dissent) to oppose SB 827, a previously introduced preemptive but less sweeping bill by Senator Wiener (which failed passage.)
In December 2018, LB Councilwoman Lena Gonzalez entered the race for a vacated LB-southeast L.A. County state Senate seat; he's been endorsed by state Senator Wiener (in a runoff against Cudahy CPA/Councilman Jack Guerrero.) Asked by email on Feb. 28 by LBREPORT.com for her position on SB 50, LB Councilwoman Gonzalez has declined to respond to date.
Invited April 22, 2019 by LBREPORT.com to provide statements regarding SB 50, two of Mayor Garcia's chosen members of the Council's "State Legislation Committee" (Al Austin and Lena Gonzalez) didn't respond; one member, Councilwoman Stacy Mungo, provided a short response reported here. Councilman Daryl Supernaw (not a Committee member but whose 4th district includes sizable areas of single family home areas potentially impacted by SB 50) declined to respond.
Density remains a sore point in Long Beach, where 1980's City Hall pro-developer policies enabled "crackerbox" apartment density in previous single-family home neighborhoods surrounding downtown, saddling the City and residents with a number of chronic issues (including parking.) (LB's experience with "crackerbox" density was part of the reason for grassroots LB neighborhood opposition to increased density proposed by LB city staff in 2017=2018 Land Use Element changes.)
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