Senator Wiener Introduces Amendments to Strengthen Bill Allowing More Housing Near Public Transportation

Amendments to Senate Bill 827 clarify and broaden demolition & displacement protections, integrate locally developed transit-oriented development programs, and clarify other issues and definitions
February 27, 2018

Sacramento –  Today Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) will introduce the first set of amendments to Senate Bill 827, which allows for more housing near public transportation. In January, Senator Wiener introduced SB 827 as part of his Housing First package, which also includes bills to reform the Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) process and to expand farmworker housing opportunities while maintaining strong worker protections. Under SB 827, parcels within a half-mile of major transit hubs and within a quarter mile of high-frequency bus stops will be required to have no density maximums (such as single family home mandates), no parking minimums, and height maximums between 45 and 85 feet (4-8 stories).

SB 827 is co-authored by Senators Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) and Ben Hueso (D-San Diego), and Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), and is sponsored by California YIMBY.

The amendments to be introduced by Senator Wiener today clarify and strengthen anti-demolition and anti-displacement protections, allow for locally developed transit-oriented development programs to work in parallel with SB 827, and clarify other questions regarding how the bill works. These amendments came as the result of weeks of meetings and interactions with advocates, local government officials, state legislators, and other groups interested in increasing housing near transit.

Senator Wiener will continue to engage in dialogue around the bill and anticipates future amendments as well.

“These amendments are a great first step in strengthening our effort to address our housing shortage by allowing more people to live near public transportation,” said Senator Wiener. “Explosive housing costs and displacement harm our environment, our economy, and our residents who can’t afford to live near their families and their jobs. We must build more homes at all income levels. These amendments resulted from some great discussions about how to meet the goals of SB 827, while ensuring tenants and local communities have strong protections, and that local governments working to create more housing are able to do so. I will continue to work with a broad range of voices to make the bill as good as it can be.”

The amendments make explicit that local demolition controls remain intact, which means if a local government bans demolition of any kind, that demolition is still banned under SB 827. In addition, if a local community places restrictions on demolitions - for example, requiring approval by the local Planning Commission - that approval process and those limits will remain in place. This deference to local demolition controls was previously implicit in the bill, but the new language makes explicit that these controls remain.

Also, if local governments do allow for demolition, any demolition approval can only be made for SB 827 projects if all existing tenants are guaranteed a Right to Remain. This Right to Remain Guarantee must, at minimum, include that the developer pay for both moving expenses and rental assistance on a similar unit for up to 42 months to ensure tenants never pay more out-of-pocket than their original rent, and that the tenant has the right of first refusal in the new development at the rent they were paying in their original unit.

In addition, SB 827 bans the demolition of rent-controlled housing, unless a local city council affirmatively certifies via resolution that it intends to review demolition permits for rent-controlled housing, outlines the process by which those reviews will occur, and affirms that any demolition permit issued have a Right to Return Guarantee for displaced tenants. The bill thus creates heightened demolition protections for rent-controlled units and clearly spells out tenant protections.

The amendments also make explicit that SB 827 defers to and keeps fully intact local inclusionary housing requirements - i.e., where cities require that a certain percentage of units in a development be affordable to lower income people - including local programs that may be voluntary but meet the goals of SB 827. This amendment allows effective local programs like the transit-oriented density/affordability provisions implemented under Measure JJJ in Los Angeles to work in parallel with SB 827 by still requiring locally-designed affordable housing requirements in exchange for upzoning benefits. SB 827 will still apply to any parcels near transit that do not fall under the local program.

The amendments also clarify other issues, including around definition of a transit corridor (specifically, that the quarter mile is measured around bus *stops*, not areas in between bus stops), local setback requirements, and interactions with State Density Bonus law. The full list of amendments can be found here.​

London Breed, President of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors: “I am proud to be working with Senator Wiener to improve SB 827 and protect renters. For our environment and residents, and to reduce congestion, San Francisco must lead the way on creating sustainable, affordable homes near transit. I will continue working with our entire state delegation to make that happen.”

Colin Parent, La Mesa City Councilmember: “There is no question that California cannot solve our climate and affordability challenges without building more homes near transit. Senator Wiener's SB 827 deserves serious consideration and this first set of amendments is a good step for the bill. I look forward to working with him and his staff to ensure it protects existing affordable homes.”

Adrian Fine, Palo Alto City Councilmember: "These amendments are an important step in strengthening the bill, and our local governments should be working with Senator Wiener as the bill moves forward so we can create more housing for people in our communities."

Brian Hanlon, California YIMBY: "California YIMBY is proud to support these amendments and the Right to Remain Guarantee, the powerful new renter protections in SB 827. We've engaged with stakeholders from across California to learn about hopes for inclusive housing policy, and look forward to future collaboration as this bill moves forward.​"

SB 827 will be heard in the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee, likely in early April, and in the Senate Governance and Finance Committee thereafter. It is supported by including the California Building Industry Association, the Council of Infill Builders, the California Apartment Association, the California Association of Realtors, the California Asian Chamber of Commerce, the Local Government Commission, the Bay Area Council, the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, the Los Angeles Business Council, the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research (SPUR), the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, the San Francisco Housing Action Coalition, and a number of local pro-housing advocacy organizations.

For a full list of amendments, see the fact sheet here: