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San Jose and Stockton mayors boost transit-housing plan

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“Too many children go to bed at night without seeing parents who are stuck in crippling commutes”

Photo by csp/Shuttetstock

On Thursday, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo endorsed SB 50, the proposed new law that aims to create more dense housing near major transit lines in California, as did the mayor of Stockton, Michael Tubbs.

Introduced in December, the bill, written by SF-based State Sen. Scott Wiener, is a follow-up to the very similar but unsuccessful SB 827.

According to Wiener’s office, the bill “eliminates hyper-low-density zoning near transit and job centers.”

The text of the proposed law specifies that it applies to “sites within one-half mile of fixed rail and one-quarter mile of high-frequency bus stops and in job-rich areas.”

On Thursday, Liccardo praised the proposal as a potential antidote to long commutes.

“Too many children go to bed at night without seeing parents who are stuck in crippling commutes,” Liccardo said in an emailed statement.

The mayor predicts that “SB 50 will spur more affordable housing near transit and job centers so that people can live close to where they work.”

Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs endorsed the measure this week too, promoting it as a way to encourage more housing and keep prices down.

“As we force individuals to pay more for their rent, we also push them into poverty,” said Tubbs. “This is a policy failure that we must address.”

San Francisco Mayor London Breed, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, and the mayors of Sacramento and Los Angeles are also among those who endorsed the measure or “made positive statements regarding the direction of the bill” previously, according to Wiener’s office.

Wiener is quick to promote local endorsements as anxiety about state laws whittling away at local zoning control is one of the things that helped sink the previous version of the bill.

Though seemingly less divisive than his former effort, Wiener’s new bill has attracted some of the same criticisms, including Marin Independent columnist Dick Spotswood’s declaration that the bill us “designed to end local control of planning,” comparing it to “war on suburbia.”

The LA-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation—which has lately become a loud voice in California housing politics after spending vast sums promoting rent control during the last election—also criticizes SB 50, alleging that it “benefits corporate, luxury-housing developers” and “will worsen gentrification and displacement throughout California.”

Though introduced by Wiener, SB 50 now has 11 cosponsors in the state senate and assembly, including San Francisco Rep. Phil Ting and East Bay Rep. Nancy Skinner.