On this blog I’ve played around a little bit with how SB 828 might change which California jurisdictions will be required to plan for a significant increase in anticipated housing need. In this piece I want to link that back to SB 827 and SB 35 and try to envision or imagine, in a broad and big-picture sense, what Wiener’s California might end up looking like.
Senator Scott Wiener advanced SB 35 last year. The bill basically applies “as of right” approval to most new development proposals in California cities that are not meeting their Regional Housing Needs Allocation/Assessment (RHNA) targets. The “as of right” or “ministerial approval” only applies to projects that conform to existing zoning requirements on land. Based on my earlier blog posts on SB 828 (see elsewhere on this website), I think SB 828, as currently written, would make SB 35 ‘as of right’ apply to nearly all jurisdictions in the state. If my understanding is correct, and SB 828 would overrule the previous statutory guidelines for RHNA (I have yet to confirm if that is true), we will be living in By-Right California. But remember that this only applies to projects conforming to existing zoning. So cities may respond by rapidly down-zoning as much as they can.
That’s where SB 828 comes in. The bill up zones all development within walk-able distances to major public transport stations. It basically takes a lot of zoning power out of the hands of locals in these transit rich locations.
So putting all the bills together:
SB 828 and SB 35 inspire a backlash that sees localities massively down-zone across the state except in areas where they cannot per SB 827. The result? California’s next 1-2 million new homes concentrate disproportionately, or mostly, in transit rich areas.
If either SB 828 or SB 827 get through the legislature, the next Governor isn’t going to be the defacto state leader on housing, land use, and transport, Scott Wiener will be. That’s how massive these bills are.