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New SB 50 chart will help you make sense of California’s transit-housing bill

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“It will upzone all counties, large and small”

SB 50 as of May 8, 2019.
Senate Bill 50 as of May 8, 2019. (Click to enlarge.)
Illustration by Alfred Twu

Still stymied by Senate Bill 50, State Sen. Scott Wiener’s major proposal to increase housing along some of California transit hubs? Don’t worry. Berkeley illustrator and housing activist Alfred Twu, who designed the fantasy BART apartment complex and this previous flowchart, has a new chart to help explain SB 50, the MORE Homes Act.

As it proceeds through committee hearings, SB 50 continues to be amended. The first major change happened on April 25, when SB 50 merged with Sen. Mike McGuire’s SB 4, making fourplexes by-right across much of the state. On May 1, 2019, new revisions create different rules for rural and urban areas.

“It will upzone all counties, large and small,” Wiener tells Curbed SF. “The amendments we negotiated with Senator McGuire provide lighter touch density increases in small counties, but those counties still get more density, including Senator McGuire’s own Marin and Sonoma Counties.”

He also notes, “Legislation is always a negotiation—give and take—and while we had negotiated, we ended up with a reasonable, workable, and positive result.”

According to Twu, the new changes “echo how Californian cities were built prior to the downzonings of the mid-20th century: mid-rise buildings near rail stations, small apartments and townhouses near workplaces, and a mix of houses, duplexes, and fourplexes in most suburban neighborhoods.”

He adds, “It’s a sensible and time-tested approach to building housing.”

Wiener’s bill has drawn lines in the proverbial sand about housing between those who don’t want any, those who claim they want it (just not in their town), and those who literally want it now.

Detractors include Menlo Park Mayor Ray Mueller, who wrote an op-ed in the Daily Post, saying that, among other things, “SB 50 would change the character of our city’s treasured residential neighborhood,” and the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, an LA-based nonprofit, who compared SB 50 to racist urban renewal programs.

Supporters of the bill include Habitat for Humanity, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, San Francisco Mayor London Breed, Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs, the American Association of Retired Person (AAPR), Environment California, and the California League of Conservation Voters (CLCV).

The bill’s next stop is scheduled for the Senate Appropriations Committee.