Sen. Wiener announces amendments to SB 50, the more homes act


San Francisco – Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) announced amendments to Senate Bill 50, the More HOMES Act, to increase and define affordability standards, strengthen renter protections, detail jobs-rich community requirements, and further protect sensitive communities. These amendments come after months of stakeholder meetings and engagement to strengthen SB 50’s effectiveness in addressing California’s housing crisis, while protecting against displacement of low-income renters and sensitive communities. SB 50 creates new zoning standards for the construction of housing near job centers and public transportation. It eliminates hyper-low-density zoning near transit and job centers, thus legalizing apartment buildings in these locations so that more people can live near transit and near where they work. It also reduces or eliminates minimum parking requirements for new developments.

“California is in a deep housing crisis, and we need bold solutions to close our state’s 3.5 million home deficit,” said Senator Wiener. “Our housing shortage is threatening California’s environment, economy, diversity, and quality of life.

We need more housing at all income levels, and we need to focus that housing near transit and near where people work. I’m grateful to the stakeholders who are working on this to make SB 50 as good as it can be.”

“Increasing housing next to transit and jobs is smart land use, and so are the new amendments to SB 50 that ensure affordable units are included and sensitive communities are safeguarded,” said Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley). “I’m proud to co-author SB 50.”

The amendments introduced on March 11th will:

Amend in a more specific definition of job-rich area:

A jobs-rich area is defined as an area with positive educational and economic outcomes for households of all income levels, or its proximity to jobs, as measured by job totals and employment density, would allow people to live close to where they work, or new housing developed in this area would help to reduce vehicle miles traveled. A map outlining job-rich areas will be available in advance of SB 50’s first committee hearing.

Redefine major transit stop to include planned rail/ferry stations:

The language requirement as to what transit stations are included in the bill will remain the same, except that now any area within a ¼ or ½ miles of a planned rail or ferry station will also be rezoned under the bill. This mirrors language in previous state policy, such as SB 375.

Amend in the specific methodology for identifying sensitive communities:
Within the Bay Area, sensitive communities will match the map that was developed and approved with deep regional stakeholder input at CASA, the Committee to House the Bay Area. Outside the Bay Area, the methodology to identify sensitive communities will be a combination of a high percentage of households living under the poverty line and indicators of racial segregation in the census tract.

Include tenants of mobile home parks in definition of protected tenants:

Tenants in mobile home parks will now have the same protections as other tenants in order to protect against displacement.

Outline mandatory affordable housing requirements for SB 50 projects:
The minimum inclusionary zoning requirements range from 15-25% for low-income units, deepening on the size of the project, and includes options to meet the requirement by providing very- or extremely- low income units.

SB 50 sets minimum inclusionary zoning standards. If a local inclusionary program has requirements in excess of SB 50, the local program applies.

Provides flexibility for developers to pay fees in lieu of building affordable housing on site while requiring that that affordable housing to be built within a ½ mile of the original location or prove that the project is affirmatively furthering fair housing.