CSAC Bulletin Article

Update on Amendments to SB 50 (Wiener): Housing “Upzoning” Bill

January 9, 2020

Senator Wiener recently amended SB 50, which would provide for additional residential density in areas near transit, as well as in areas deemed “jobs-rich” by the Department of Housing and Community Development and the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research, among other provisions. CSAC currently has an “oppose unless amended” position on the bill. As discussed in the 2020 priorities approved by the Housing, Land Use and Transportation Policy Committee in December, key issues remaining with the bill included:

  1. Flexibility within the framework to achieve local planning goals,
  2. Alignment with Housing Element law and site requirements,
  3. Funding for local plans, and
  4. Clear statutory definitions that put reasonable limitations on the discretion of the Department of Housing and Community Development and the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research in implementing the bill.

An analysis of the January 6 amendments, including discussion of whether the amendments address previously-stated concerns, is included in this memo.

Recent amendments to SB 50 make the following key changes to the bill:

  • Delay Implementation: Offer a two-year delayed implementation for all communities and a five-year delayed implementation for sensitive communities.
  • Add Local Flexibility Provisions: Provide local governments with some flexibility to develop a new plan or use an existing plan that sets a density bonus program that fits the community need and allows the jurisdiction to be exempt from the default equitable communities incentive program included in SB 50.
  • Add a “Local Preference” Requirement: Require that residents living within one-half mile of the development be given priority for at least 40 percent of any units required to be reserved for low-, very low-, or extremely low-income households.

CSAC continues to solicit feedback on the bill and proposed amendments from counties. Please send any input to Marina Espinoza at mespinoza@counties.org.

In order to advance through the Legislature this year, SB 50 must be passed by the Senate Appropriations Committee by Friday, January 24 and the full Senate by Friday, January 31.

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