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Lawmaker behind SB 50 makes case for zoning reforms to address state housing crisis

Original post made on Jun 11, 2019

Scott Wiener, whose housing bill has energized housing advocates and galvanized local officials, came to Palo Alto on Friday to push back against local critics and assure a receptive crowd that Senate Bill 50 remains on track to pass.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, June 11, 2019, 11:04 AM

Comments (5)

15 people like this
Posted by stan
a resident of Portola Valley: Los Trancos Woods/Vista Verde
on Jun 11, 2019 at 1:42 pm

We are facing a crisis in providing adequate housing at the local, regional and national level. Our economic growth has fueled a need for more workers than can be housed within our existing communities, let alone supported by our existing infrastructures.

AB 50 seeks to address this need in a drastic and draconian fashion by mandating up to three times the present population for some communities. This is not a viable solution and, in fact only addresses a symptom, not a root cause.

We cannot simply pile more concrete structures on top of the existing ones without addressing the needs for more schools, better transportation, more city services and utilities, as well as additional neighborhood serving businesses. The infrastructure both public and private in many communities is already under performing and overextended.

Broad solutions which encompass, but are not restricted to, communities are called for, but should begin at the regional level and extend state and nationwide.

Let us consider creating new cities that are designed from the ground up, with zero net energy and water demands and which require limited transportation. Cities which have room to grow and are sustainable.

Finally, we must ask ourselves: How much of our environment and our quality of life are we willing to sacrifice for economic growth? We already enjoy some unenviable social and environmental issues. California is nearly in last place in quality of our roads, crowding of our roads, and performance of our schools. On the flip side we enjoy some of the highest sales tax, highest overall tax impact, highest cost of electricity, water, and gasoline, highest poverty rate and highest cost of housing in the nation. All this in the pursuit of the siren song of growth. Isn’t it time to seriously begin to question the trajectory of our society?

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Posted by AllAreWelcome
a resident of another community
on Jun 11, 2019 at 2:31 pm

Redwood City resident here. Clearly the status quo is not working. Homelessness has increased in the past 2 years while our economy continues to grow and startup IPOs continue to make certain folks in the bay area very wealthy. I think we need to address 2 things: 1. build more housing and 2. stop allowing unbridled job growth. We need housing to catch up to jobs so that we have less long commutes, less traffic, and less socioeconomic segregation via housing policy. The last point refers to the historic policy of zoning many neighborhoods for single family homes, which recent research has shown has a serious racist history behind it (and explains why we don't see it elsewhere in the world).

I agree with Senator Wiener's efforts; I think they need to be coupled with efforts to restrict job growth in the area. If local communities want to take on these efforts themselves instead of waiting to see what the state comes up with, I fully support that. For example Menlo Park's recent moratorium proposal seems like a step in the right direction.

Lastly, as to the previous commenter who is worried about infrastructure - our region has high impact fees that developers pay in order to pay for infrastructure growth when housing is built.

14 people like this
Posted by PV Resident
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Jun 11, 2019 at 3:40 pm

Stan is spot on. Stop unbridled growth. Period. I for one refuse to support any effort at building new housing until transportation, schools, healthcare, pollution, natural resources and taxes are all addressed. Send SW back to the drawing board.

11 people like this
Posted by PV Resident
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Jun 11, 2019 at 4:50 pm

And to AllAreWelcome: how can you suggest with a straight face that developer high impact fees will solve our infrastructure problems. Have you driven on 101 lately? Do you really think that fees associated with building more housing will solve that problem?

6 people like this
Posted by Joseph E. Davis
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Jun 11, 2019 at 9:42 pm

If you would like to bring an end to Menlo Park, Palo Alto, Woodside, Atherton, and Portola Valley as pleasant places to live, then SB50 is for you. It is an appalling and monstrous bill.

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