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California housing transit bill amended after concerns from critics

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The bill hasn’t been neutered, says Wiener

Bay Area Transportation Workers Strike Looms Ahead Of Monday Deadline Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

In an effort to address criticism from its opponents, State Senator Scott Wiener added a series of amendments to SB 827, his housing transit bill that would help build taller residential buildings near public transportation stations. Most notably, the maximum height of buildings that could be built under the bill has been reduced to five stories from eight.

Also, should the bill pass, it would go into effect in 2021 instead of 2019.

“This bill has triggered a robust and passionate discussion about housing in California, and I appreciate all the feedback we’ve received, including from critics who have engaged thoughtfully on the bill,” Wiener said in a statement.

While some have characterized the lawmaker’s edits as “neutered,” Wiener says that isn’t the case.

“The bill hasn’t been neutered...[please] don’t mischaracterize what we did,” tweeted the state senator. “This is still a highly impactful bill. Negotiating legislation doesn’t mean the bill has been ‘neutered.’”

In addition to new height limits, the bill would also require builders to add more affordable units (depending on the size) and prohibit the tearing down of low-income housing for more upscale residences.

SB 827 would still help block local opposition to new residential construction. Cities like Cupertino and Mountain View—which welcomed Apple and Google with open arms, respectively—have succeeded in preventing apartments from being built in their cities in an effort to keep home prices up while keeping others out.

Wiener conceived the bill last year in response to the widespread housing crisis, but the bill has generated exceptionally heated discussion among housing advocates.

Counterarguments against the senator’s bill run the gamut—from claims that there’s not enough affordable housing to concerns that adding density is a “declaration of war.” It has also generated dozens of memes ranging from homophobic (Wiener is openly gay) to hilarious.

SB 827 will go before its first committee hearing April 17.