National Fair Housing and Civil Rights Experts Announce Support for Senator Wiener’s Transit Housing Bill

April 5, 2018

San Francisco –  Today a group of national fair housing and civil rights experts issued a joint letter supporting Senate Bill 827, Senator Scott Wiener’s (D-San Francisco) bill to allow for more housing to be built near public transportation. The letter cites SB 827 as a national model that will open up more areas for housing, break down historical patterns of segregation, and create more affordable housing near public transportation.

The list of 17 signatories include john a. powell, the Robert D. Haas Chancellor’s Chair in Equity & Inclusion and Professor of Law, African-American, and Ethnic Studies at UC Berkeley; Richard Rothstein, Senior Fellow (Emeritus) at the Thurgood Marshall Institute at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund; and Sheryll D. Cashin, the Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Law, Civil Rights and Social Justice at Georgetown University Law Center.

The letter can be read here.

The letter cites a national history of zoning practices that made housing “inaccessible or prohibitively expensive for people of color and low income families.” The letter goes on to say:

  • SB 827 is one of the most innovative and important efforts in the nation to attack restrictive and exclusionary local land use policies that maintain and exacerbate these segregative patterns.
  • By opening up higher opportunity communities to more affordable development, this approach has the potential to provide access to life-enhancing resources for traditionally excluded people.
  • By overriding exclusionary land use policies in many of our highest job growth centers or places where public transit connects users to those centers, SB 827 strikes at the heart of this problem.
  • By circumventing cost-inflating restrictive zoning barriers, SB 827 would allow more affordable housing than is currently permitted to be constructed where public transportation systems can carry job seekers to employment centers. 
  • The balance of available evidence leads us to conclude that this law will exert downward pressure on quantifiable measures of racial and economic segregation over time.

Under SB 827, parcels within a half-mile of major transit hubs and within a quarter mile of stops on transit-heavy corridors will be required to have no density maximums (such as single family home mandates), no parking minimums, and a minimum height limit of between 45 and 85 feet. Senator Wiener recently amended the bill to clarify and strengthen demolition and 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. 

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. SB 827 is slated to be heard in the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee in April. The letter follows recent support letters from California Urban Planning professors and statewide environmental advocates, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Climate Resolve, and Environment California.


Link to letter: