California’s housing wars just starting

By Editorial Board : sfchronicle – excerpt

The Legislature’s long-delayed response to California’s housing crisis narrowly passed in September in a flurry of last-minute nail-biting and arm-twisting. Judging by the reception that has greeted one of the new year’s first housing bills, that was nothing.

The legislation, by state Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, would overrule local zoning in favor of high-density residential development near mass transit. Sounds wonky enough, but fans of the idea have already declared that it would “change the shape of California housing” and, indeed, solve the housing crisis. Detractors, meanwhile, called it a “declaration of war on every urban community in California,” comparing it to the law that enabled Andrew Jackson’s Trail of Tears; and even posited that transit officials have been running empty buses up and down Berkeley’s Ashby Avenue just so developers can have their way with the surrounding neighborhoods once the bill becomes law…

A recent impasse over rent-control expansion in Chiu’s committee means a ballot-measure fight over the issue could be the backdrop of any debate over housing in the Legislature. The prospect of such an ultimately counterproductive response to the crisis makes legislators’ task that much more important…

It’s a problem that won’t be solved readily or easily, but the debate itself is yielding signs of progress. Officials in Brisbane, who have for years rejected a proposal to build thousands of homes on a closely watched site in San Francisco’s shadow, decided to reconsider this week, citing the mere “threat of … legislative action.”… (more)

The article makes no mention of the major cost of living increases that accompany the unlimited growth doctrine, pushed by Scott Wiener in SB 827, that is threatening the security of the middle class, gentrifying our neighborhoods, and pushing many people out of their homes onto the sidewalks and closing many businesses.

State control over local governments and land use is no more welcome than federal mandates on the states. Citizens want to control their lives and any government interference is unwelcome no matter what the excuse. Recall efforts are underway to replace at least one state legislator and more are threatened by angry constituents.

San Francisco’s former Mayor Newsom who is running for governor should not count on support from the home town he is suing over the right to override their waterfront decisions by claiming they are too stupid to manage their waterfront. (We understand this is one argument his attorney used for why the state should take back control of development of the waterfront the state handed over to the city to manage a few years ago.)

Voters are taxed out. An anti-tax movement is sweeping through the liberal political spectrum that normally supports raising taxes for social causes. Bills such as SB-827 that link dense development to transit rich corridors may turn off funding for public transportation as communities that oppose dense housing mandates strive to avoid being labeled transit rich. This sets up an interesting dynamic that unites the efforts of people fighting gentrification with those opposed to the policies of the SFMTA. This result in big changes at City Hall as well as in Sacramento, where the real damage is being done.


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