San Francisco Chronicle: Right fix for California’s housing crisis
Legislation passed by the state Senate last week promises to ease California’s housing crisis by the only means likely to succeed over the long run: preventing local governments from needlessly restricting residential construction.
Senate Bill 35, sponsored by Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, provides for streamlined approvals of multifamily developments that meet a series of conditions in cities that are falling short of local housing needs. It earned bipartisan support in the Senate and is now before the Assembly, which should follow suit.
With more than 100 housing-related bills in Sacramento speaking to the depth of the crisis, legislators also advanced measures last week to ask voters to approve more borrowing for affordable housing, provide rental assistance for the homeless, and allow cities and counties to ease development in special districts.
Local development restrictions that strangle the housing supply, particularly in urban areas where dense development makes sense, are at the root of the shortage. They lead to higher home prices, rents and, ultimately, homelessness.
But limiting local pols’ power to arbitrarily say yea or nay to builders — and residents’ ability to prevent any and every project that might change their neighborhoods — takes courage that Sacramento has yet to muster. That’s why Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal to limit local control died without so much as a vote in the Legislature last year. Wiener’s bill gives lawmakers another chance to do their jobs and begin to address California’s most pressing problem.
Read the SF Chronicle editorial here.