Wiener Amends SB 827, Controversy Continues

The bill has divided San Franciscans between those fearing additional displacement and those seeking highly dense development.

The controversial California housing bill that has set off fierce debate and occasional ugly physical confrontations has emerged with a slate of new amendments to address criticism.

State Sen. Scott Wiener announced amendments to SB 827 on Tuesday, which scales back contentious provisions like high-rise buildings and requires more affordable housing. For one, the maximum height of buildings is down from eight or 10 stories to four or five.

Depending on the size of the project, a certain percentage of affordable housing is now required, which is based on the state’s housing density bonus policy. And if any rent-controlled units or subsidized housing is removed, developers must replace each unit with permanent affordable housing. Plus, demolition permits are not applicable to properties that have had a recorded Ellis Act eviction in the past five years.

In addition, Wiener redefined transit corridors to apply to bus stops that run more frequently. It would also give local jurisdictions until January 2021, rather than 2019.

“This bill has triggered a robust and passionate discussion about housing in California, and I appreciate all the feedback we’ve received, including from critics who have engaged thoughtfully on the bill,” Wiener says in a statement. “We have worked with both supporters and opponents on these amendments, and we will continue to work with anyone committed to solving our housing shortage as we move through the legislative process.”

Last week, the Board of Supervisors voted 8-3 to formally oppose SB 827, with some supervisors calling fundamentally flawed and would be better to start from scratch. Los Angeles also opposed the bill.

California’s Senate Transportation and Housing Committee will hear the legislation on April 17, and Wiener expects more amendments to follow.

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