Fri, Sep

New SB 50 Worse Than Before. Profits to Developers, Little to No Affordable Housing


THE REAL ESTATE BILL THAT WON’T GO AWAY--Senate Bill 50 by State Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) was shelved last May in the Senate Appropriations Committee.

But Wiener just announced plans to revive SB 50 with amendments that he says will give cities more flexibility in meeting the bill’s requirements. 

The new version of the bill would allow cities and counties to come up with their own plans to increase growth around transit and jobs as long as they boost density to the level required under SB 50. The provision allows for fourplexes on single-family parcels without exception. 

SB 50 would allow multifamily housing projects that are within a quarter mile of a train station to bypass city parking requirements, density limits or height limits of less than 55 feet. 

If the housing project is more than a quarter mile but less than a half mile from the train station, a height limit of 45 feet or less could not be imposed. 

It would also apply to housing developments within a quarter mile of a bus stop on a “high-quality” bus route or in so-called “job-rich areas.” 

In those zones, a city couldn’t apply density limits to multi-family housing projects or require more than half a parking space per unit. 

Why is SB 50 A Bad Bill? 

  • SB 50 would force California cities to rely even more on the private sector to address the housing crisis. 
  • SB 50 does not offer a penny of state money for affordable housing. 
  • SB 50 provides little to no affordable housing. 
  • SB 50 provides meaningless tenant protections. 
  • SB 50 will lead to increased gentrification that will lead to tenant displacement and the loss of existing rent controlled affordable housing. 
  • SB 50 embraces Reaganomic Trickle Down Economics. If you build more luxury housing rents will come down. The Supply and Demand theory that has always failed. 
  • SB 50 fails to address needed changes to the Costa Hawkins Housing Act and Ellis Act, and does not provide funding for affordable housing monitoring or oversight.


SB 50 Stopped Last Year, But It's Back 

Last year, Sen. Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge) stopped SB 50 by shelving it without a vote in the Appropriations Committee, which he chairs. Portantino said he hadn’t seen Wiener’s changes to the bill, but said he remained concerned that the bill would prioritize market-rate housing instead of low-income development and do so without ensuring that new streets, sidewalks and other new infrastructure would come alongside the homebuilding.‌

“This bill doesn’t build affordable housing,” Portantino said. “I prefer to actually fund affordable housing.” 

SB 50 Provides Little to No Affordable Housing           

SB 50 would allow up to a 20-unit building without a single affordable unit provided. 

Here are the housing requirements of SB 50 and why Sen Portantino’s concerns are completely justified. 

If the project has 10 or fewer units, no affordability contribution is required. 

If the project has 11 to 20 residential units, the developer may pay an in-lieu fee to the local government for affordable housing without providing any affordable housing in the project. 

A 200-unit building would be required to provide only 30 affordable units for a family of 4 earning up to $83,500 a year. 

A 350-unit building would be required to provide only 59 affordable units for a family of 4 earning up to $83,500 a year. 

If the project has more than 20 residential units, the development proponent shall do either of the following: 

Make a comparable affordability contribution toward housing offsite that is affordable to lower income households. 

Include units on the site of the project that are affordable to extremely low income, very low income, or lower income households: 

SB 50 Meager Affordable Housing Requirements 


Project Size

Inclusionary Requirement

21–200 units

15% lower income; or

8% very low income; or

6% extremely low income

201–350 units

17% lower income; or

10% very low income; or

8% extremely low income

351 or more units

25% lower income; or

15% very low income; or

11% extremely low income


SB 50 is Not the Answer. Your Action is Needed Now! 

Help Stop SB 50 and Demand More Funding for Real Affordable Housing. 

Contact Senate Appropriation Members. 

Tell them to vote NO on SB 50 to prevent gentrification and tenant displacement. Tell them we do need more housing, but it must be affordable housing. 

Senate Appropriation Committee 


Senator Anthony J. Portantino (Chair)  [email protected] 

Senator Patricia C. Bates (Vice Chair)  [email protected] 

Senator Steven Bradford  [email protected] 

Senator Maria Elena Durazo  [email protected] 

Senator Jerry Hill   [email protected] 

Senator Brian W. Jones  [email protected] 

Senator Bob Wieckowski   [email protected] 

Also, email Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon [email protected]

and Senate President Pro Temp Toni Atkins [email protected]


(Larry Gross is the Executive Director, Coalition for Economic Survival)






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