Housing Bill Raises Local Control Fight

March 05, 2018

Daily Journal
By Austin Walsh

The ongoing battle between local control advocates and a lawmaker seeking to overhaul state housing policy ramped up over a recent proposal seeking to incentivize residential development near public transportation.

Senate Bill 827, authored by state Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, served as the most recent catalyst for debate between the local legislator and those wishing to preserve the authority of local elected officials when considering housing proposals.

Wiener, who represents San Francisco and a slice of northern San Mateo County, said the bill loosening density regulations near public transit stops could combat the state’s affordability crisis. Most notably, the bill aims to boost allowable building height limits in certain cases to a maximum 85 feet, while also exempting qualified projects from local parking and density limits.

Critics though claim the proposal merely seeks to take away the ability of city councils, planning departments and other local representatives traditionally charged with guiding community development.

“The biggest issue is stripping away planning documents and handing this decision over to developers,” said Jason Rhine, a legislative representative with the League of California Cities.

Wiener refuted such claims though, and said the proposal merely seeks to reclaim some authority for the Legislature in housing matters, which is badly needed considering the breadth of the state’s affordability crunch.