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Livable California

Ten Strategies that Set Back SB 50

Ten Strategies that Set Back SB-50

Members of Livable California were pleasantly surprised to learn on Thursday that legislation that would give developers greater rights over city planning than elected city councils was not getting out of the Appropriations Committee. Instead SB-50 turns into a two-year bill, coming back in 2020. Senator Scott Wiener has the winds taken out of his ambitious housing agenda sails.

Wiener's legislative colleagues seemed to heed the voice of their constituents who dislike his plans to eliminate zoning for single family homes, increase heights, density, displacement, and gentrification without solving the problem of affordable housing. This is a set-back, like the defeat of Wiener’s SB-827 in 2018.

It is also a setback for the heavily marketed CASA Compact, which sought to push through a package of 10 housing bills under the banner of Protection (rental assistance and eviction standards), Preservation, and Production. Production is the key element of a package that many say is created to benefit real estate investors, banks, and global markets far more than it solves the problem of affordable housing for low-income residents.

Livable California is one of many organizations that played a part in slowing down SB-50. Acknowledging there are more draconian housing bills winding their way through the legislative process, we spent time at the Livable California monthly meeting on May 18th, identifying activities that made a difference. As we improve our tools and tactics, we anticipate a growing list of successes when it comes to preserving local control of land use, zoning, and housing.

Ten Strategies that Set Back SB-50

This list of Ten Strategies doesn’t capture the daily nitty-gritty discussions, monitoring and reporting, formal and informal meetings, late night phone calls, and tireless effort to preserve democracy and a community’s right to determine its own future.

As Gandhi said, ““First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” If we’re now at the point where they fight us, these Ten Strategies will serve us well going forward toward more wins for a livable California. The fight against SB 50 continues--now.

Susan Kirsch is founder and President of the Board of Livable California, a statewide agency with a mission to empower community stakeholders to maintain local community planning and decision-making.


SB50, CASA, Livable California, Senator Scott Wiener