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YIMBY senator named head of California housing committee

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Senator Scott Wiener set to take over key housing position

california state capitol building Photo by Rada Photos/Shutterstock

Last week, California Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins named SF-based State Senator Scott Wiener the head of the senate’s committee on housing.

In a Friday statement, Wiener declared that he was “honored and humbled to be named chair of the Housing committee” and once again assailed what he characterizes as laxness on the part of state government to push out more residential growth.

“We are pricing out a generation and forcing people into overcrowded conditions or homelessness,” said Wiener. “I look forward to advancing a progressive housing agenda that ensures we are building enough housing at all income levels.”

The Senate Housing Committee was formerly headed by San Jose-based Senator Jim Beall, whose legislative history mostly focused on promoting affordable housing.

Wiener is noted for having a much more aggressive approach to housing, aiming to clear away red tape around development and pushing state mandates over local control. His newest piece of legislation (SB 50) aims to effectively upzone blocks around major transit avenues across all California cities, the second time he’s made a bid for such a change.

Moderator Laura Foote Clark and California State Senator Scott Wiener.
Sen. Scott Wiener speaking at 2017 YIMBYtown conference.

The senate says that its committees are “forums for public input, the best place for citizens to communicate their concerns about proposed legislation.”

More importantly, they’re where new legislation starts its long and winding road to a vote, and also where a lot of bills die or are radically transformed before moving forward.

Chair positions are assigned every two years. As public law office Best, Best, and Krieger noted in 2016, “Although chairs of state legislative policy committees do not wield the same control as federal committee chairs, they do control committee analyses and hearing schedule, which can be almost as important.”

The Sacramento Bee slyly notes, “Depending upon the committee, the positions can boost a legislator’s campaign account as special interest groups try to make nice with politicians to influence the outcome of bills.”

However, chairs would presumably bristle at the suggestion that they can be bought off with contributions.