Controversial Housing Bill Met With Familiar Backlash

Protestors from Moms 4 Housing interrupted a press conference on Jan. 7, 2020about state Sen. Scott Wiener's proposal to foster the construction of affordable housing near transit hubs.
Photo credit Margie Shafer/KCBS Radio
By KCBS All News 106.9FM and 740AM

State Sen. Scott Wiener is hoping the third time's a charm for SB-50, a bill that would require dense housing near transit and areas with jobs. 

But much like the last two times he’s introduced the legislations, it’s been met with a swift backlash. 

The latest uproar occurred Tuesday on the steps of Oakland’s City Hall where protestors interrupted Wiener (D-San Francisco) as he explained how SB-50 aims to address California’s shortage of 3.5 million homes. 

“What we’re doing is opening up an enormous amount of land for affordable housing and apartment buildings,” Wiener told KCBS Radio. “That’s why when the San Francisco Planning Department analyzed the bill, it concluded that SB-50 would lead to a big increase in affordable housing. This is an affordable housing bill.” 

The amended bill creates more local zoning flexibility, allowing cities to create their own plans. It has the support of Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, State Sen. Nancy Skinner and Assemblyman Ash Kalra.

Previous versions have encountered opposition in suburban communities that have little history of constructing larger apartment buildings. 

But protestors, including Moms 4 Housing co-founder Dominique Walker, disagree, saying there are four vacant homes for every one homeless person in Oakland. Moms 4 Housing has gained attention recently since two members took control of an uninhabited house in West Oakland. 

“No, we don’t support SB-50,” Walker said. “We don’t need more housing. We need it to be affordable. There’s not a scarcity of housing in Oakland.”