Written by legislator Scott Wiener, SB 50 rewards developers to buy and demolish single-family housing and apartments near rail, train, ferry or busy bus stops AND near jobs and good schools. SB 50 kills local planning rules, letting buildings tower over homes. The towers can include NO parking, NO space for trees, NO setbacks, and NO design standards. All that developers must do is include a few "affordable" rental units.
Does SB 50 really BAN single-family zoning statewide?
Yes. In an unprecedented experiment, all residential areas not caught up in a "transit-rich" or "jobs-rich" area (the blue, red and yellow on the map) will be “upzoned” statewide to BAN single-family zoning (see all dotted areas). Developers could buy and demolish homes to build luxury duplexes and luxury 4-plex micro-units. These so-called "Neighborhood Multi-Family Units" will contain NO affordable rentals.
Sen. Wiener & the Los Angeles Times say homes couldn't be demolished for 4-plexes. That's false: 75% of exterior walls would be left, with the house gutted from roof to floor. The destroyed home would then be upsized by 15% & divided into duplexes, three-plexes or four micro-units.
How does SB 50 displace 1000s of renters?
SB 50 promises protections that can't be enforced. Its "ban" on the demolition of occupied apartments instead prompts developers to buy out renters and claim it was vacant — a top social justice problem in California.
How does SB 50 gentrify hundreds of diverse and sensitive communities?
SB 50 forces diverse neighborhoods to agree to gentrification and luxury towers by 2025, annihilating their thriving communities.
What ELSE does SB 50 dramatically change in our communities?
Developers can override up to 6 planning standards, according to an in-depth analysis by the San Francisco Department of Planning. Developers become their own zoners and planners. Cities would be barred from fighting bad development unless an SB 50 project is so bad that it's a direct public safety threat (not an indirect threat like smog). Here's just a sample of rules developers can abandon under SB 50. Cities, counties and communities would have no say.
Why does SB 50 say "minimum heights" would be 45 or 55 feet? It doesn't mention 75 or 85 feet.
Under state "Density Bonus" law, a developer can already add up to 3 floors (30 feet) to the height of a building, a financial reward given to developers who include a few affordable units. But under SB 50, a developer can add up to 3 floors atop the new limit of 45 or 55 feet. Areas in blue or dark pink would be forced to accept 5 to 8-story towers.
What is a High-Frequency Bus Stop? If my city adds more buses, would that allow developers to overrun my area with tall apartments?
Yes. "High-frequency" means buses that stop every 10 minutes in morning/evening, and frequently on weekends. Transit agencies could add buses to reach the 10 minute "frequency", and this would hand developers the power to overrun your area with tall apartments. SB 50 will create wars against faster bus service, statewide.
What is a jobs-rich/good schools area? And why will SB 50 let developers overrun these areas with tall apartments, even if the area doesn't have transit?
The definition of "jobs-rich" areas was published in March of 2019 by the Haas Institute. The gold-colored "jobs rich" areas on this map will create upheaval in thousands of single-family neighborhoods and apartment areas — and on streets that allow mixed-use businesses with housing on top. Sen. Wiener has been quoted by some as saying single-family homes are "immoral," and yards take up too much room.
Why don't I see much yellow jobs-rich zoning to allow tall towers, in several Northern and Eastern counties in California?
When SB 50 co-author Sen. Mike McGuire added amendments to Wiener's bill, counties with "fewer than 600,000 people" were exempted from SB 50's most drastic "upzoning" upheaval. The exemptions have set off criticism that Wiener chose to punish bigger counties to get the support of McGuire, who represents smaller counties.