Sen. Wiener takes another shot at upzoning state's single-family landscape

San Francisco Business Times, June 23, 2020

By Laura Waxmann

Proposed legislation that would mandate that cities grant by-right zoning approval for up to ten units in transit and job-rich areas passed the state Senate by a 33-3 vote on Monday.

Senate Bill 902, authored by Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) would effectively remove single-family zoning in almost all jurisdictions. It was introduced in the wake of the defeat of Wiener's SB 50, a controversial transit-oriented housing production bill that sought to eliminate local zoning restrictions to significantly increase the size of housing projects in transit and job-rich areas, earlier this year.

If enacted into law, SB 902 would create "a new tool for cities to quickly up zone non-sprawl areas...up to ten-unit apartment buildings," Wiener's office said in a statement issued Monday.

As I reported previously, SB 902 was initially introduced to allow cities with populations of under 10,000 and unincorporated areas to build at least two units per parcel in residential areas. In cities with populations between 10,000 and 50,000, it would be a minimum of three units per parcel, and in cities home to more than 50,000, it would be four units. The bill has since been amended to allow local governments to pass ordinances allowing zoning for up to ten units on any parcel — at a height specified by the local governments — so long as the parcel is located in a job-rich area, transit-rich area or is an urban infill site.

Another bill authored by Wiener — SB 1138 — which serves to ensure that cities are planning for and complying with mandates relating to the construction of homeless shelters — also passed the Senate floor on Monday with a 30-8 vote.

That bill would require cities to identify shelter zones in areas connected to services and would mandate that cities and counties submit legally compliant housing plans to ensure that shelters are zoned for and get built quickly, according to Wiener's office.

“California’s longstanding severe housing shortage and homelessness crisis are only getting worse due to Covid-19 and the resulting economic collapse,” Wiener said. “We must take bold steps to empower cities to build more housing, to ensure that housing is environmentally sustainable and to end the moral crisis of homelessness. SB 902 and SB 1138 are significant steps to meaningfully tackle two of the most severe problems facing our state.”

Both bills now head to the Assembly for approval.

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