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Livable California

April Fools' Day and Thoughts about SB 50

April Fools' Day is an annual celebration commemorated by playing practical jokes and spreading hoaxes. The jokes and their victims are called April fools. People playing April Fool jokes often expose their prank by shouting "April fool" at the unfortunate victim. –from Google

The Senate Housing Committee is meeting on Tuesday, April 2, just a day after April Fools' Day. They'll be discussing SB 50 and a dozen other housing bills. At the rate Senator Scott Wiener, Chair of the Committee and author of SB50, is pushing SB 50, we might agree we live in a house of fools--perpetrators and victims alike.

What's so foolish about SB 50? I'll give you 4 of a dozen points.

1. Taking land use planning and decision-making away from citizen-elected City Councils who have proven tools like General Plans, Housing Elements, Design Review Guidelines, and Planning Commissions - and giving it to developers, investors, and global real estate interests. Call it "a developer give-away bill" not "a housing bill."

2. Planning for high-density housing based on proximity to bus stops and frequency of bus service. . . . Need I say more?

3. Allowing 75-85 foot structures (what you get after adding up density bonuses and developer incentives!) next to single-family homes and prohibiting the neighbors, Planning Commission or City Council from doing anything about it.

4. Reducing parking requirements for the high-rise, high density building right next to your modest single-family home to .5 spaces per unit. Really? Where do you think people will park?

Sen. Scott Wiener, the darling of Silicon Valley Leadership Group and the Bay Area Council (and a recipient of millions of dollars in corporate campaign contributions), is on a mission that will transfer middle-class wealth, accumulated in the form of owning a tangible asset such as a house and the land it sits on, to the already rich and wealthy 1% who have an insatiable appetite to own more. They want to own your house, your neighborhood, and the public land that is part of your community.

Is it foolish or brilliant?

To the business person who looks at accumulation of wealth, homes and hotels with the impassioned greed of the 12-year old playing Monopoly, SB 50 is a brilliant strategy. It promises a high, very high. rate of return. The profit margins will “pencil out” for the developers. The majority will struggle with deepening poverty.

While the wealthy benefit, the rest of us will discover housing gets more expensive, taxes to fund regional agencies with unelected leadership will drain discretionary income, rates will increase for water, sewer, and refuse services; free street parking will be a thing of the past; homelessness will be worse than ever; 5-7 story buildings will block sunlight and eliminate views of Mt. Tam.

Who will fess up to the April Fools hoax and call out “April Fools!”?

Want to make a difference? Call the 11 members of the Senate Housing Committee and leave a message. Here is a list of numbers that connect to answering machines. We’re told the bill number, for or against, and the number of calls will be tallied.It takes less than 15 minutes.

Don’t be fooled. Voice your opinion. Make the calls. Leave a message.

We're told if a Senator gets 100+ calls on a bill, it'll catch his/her attention. Let's catch the attention of the Senate Housing Committee and let them know we oppose SB 50.

Take Action Now - It takes less than 15 minutes!

  1. Call members of the Senate Housing Committee. The numbers below will take you to an answering machine.
  2. Sample Script: "Hi. My name is __. (Some ask for phone, date and time that you called.) I'm calling in opposition to SB 50, which will be heard in the Senate Housing Committee on Tuesday, April 2. I'm calling to express my opposition to this top-down bill. I urge the Senator to oppose it, too.
  3. If you have time, forward the list to others and encourage them to call.
  4. Some of us are going to Sacramento for the hearing on Tuesday, leaving Marin at 10:45. If you’d like to carpool, send me an email at

Senate Housing Committee

Name, District, Phone, Area

Sen. Scott D. Wiener (Chair), District 11; 916-651-4011, SF

Sen Mike Morrell (Vice Chair),District 23; (916) 651-4023, Rancho Cucamonga

Senator Patricia C. Bates, District 36; (916) 651-4036, Laguna Hills,Encinitas

Senator Anna M. Caballero, District 12; (916) 651-4012, Merced,Salinas

Senator Maria Elena Durazo, District 24; (916) 651-4024, Los Angeles

Senator Mike McGuire, District 2; 916) 651-4002, San Rafael, Santa Rosa, Ukiah, Crescent City, Eureka, Lakeport

Senator John M. W. Moorlach, District 37, (916) 651-4037, Costa Mesa

Senator Richard D. Roth, District 31; (916) 651-4031, Riverside

Senator Nancy Skinner, District 09; (916) 651-4009; Oakland

Senator Thomas J. Umberg, District 34; (916) 651-4034, Garden Grove

Senator Bob Wieckowski, District 10; (916) 651-4010, Fremont

Legislators, under the leadership of Senator Scott Wiener, are playing an April Fools' joke on unsuspecting communities concerned about affordable housing when the real crisis is this attempt by the rich and wealthy to accumulate a monopoly of housing stock, without community checks and balances.

Giving up local control is giving up a core tenant of representative democracy. It’s a long-term April Fools’ joke if we give away our collective community wealth and well-being to the hands of private enterprise moguls who already own Park Place and Boardwalk.

Call those 11 Senators on the Housing Committee today!


April Fool's, SB 50, Senator Scott Wiener, CASA Hero