California's Upzoning Bill, SB 50, Would Allow Apartment Construction in Wealthy Communities

The proposed legislation would open up cities like Palo Alto to higher-density housing.

2 minute read

April 24, 2019, 11:00 AM PDT

By Camille Fink


Sundry Photography / Shutterstock

Liam Dillon reports on Senate Bill 50, the big bill transit oriented development bill designed to address California's housing crisis by easing development restrictions on transit corridors all over the state. "Sen. Scott Wiener’s Senate Bill 50 aims to spur home building by requiring local governments to relax construction restrictions near mass transit, and it contains a separate provision that would force wealthy communities near employment centers to allow apartments where only single-family homes are currently permitted, regardless of whether they’re close to rail or major bus lines."

Palo Alto is one city that would see drastic changes, with construction of apartment buildings in neighborhoods where expensive single-family homes are now the norm. Local officials and residents are not welcoming the prospect, and they say the focus should be on limiting the job growth that is bringing in too many new, high-paid residents that the city cannot accommodate.

"But others believe the real issue is that Palo Alto residents want to prevent more people from living in their community," notes Dillon. Housing advocates say that Palo Alto has rejected proposed multiunit projects in the past, and the city has a long history of developing single-family neighborhoods that were only available to whites. Wiener says his bill will increase housing in communities across the state but also make up for the inequitable development of the past.

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