SB 50 Overview

SB50’s stated purpose is to address California’s housing shortage, by allowing multi-family dwellings in single-family neighborhoods near transit corridors. That includes most of central Los Angeles (including Greater Wilshire, within which lies Windsor Square), because proximity to transit corridors is defined loosely as “within a half mile of a train station and within a quarter mile of a bus stop.”

In response to statewide criticisms expressed last spring, summer and fall, SB 50’s sponsor, State Senator Scott Wiener from San Francisco, made small changes and returned to the Senate with the bill.

This version of the proposed law allegedly exempts neighborhoods with HPOZs (Historic Preservation Overlay Zones) — but only those HPOZs that were established prior to 2010, which would include Windsor Square but not Miracle Mile. Despite that provision, the complicated proposed law still does not exempt newer houses built within any HPOZ zone, known as “non-conforming” structures. Many blocks in Windsor Square contain such structures, and these properties easily could be targets of developers’ wrecking balls. Imagine a boxy new four- or five-story condo building squeezed in between two historic homes!

Not for affordable housing

Although many promoters of SB 50 imply that it is a means to create affordable housing, most serious analysts say that will not be the result because there is nothing in the legislation to require affordable housing for any projects with ten or fewer units. Given the real estate industry sponsors who are paying for the pro-SB 50 legislative advocacy (as well as for the election campaigns of Sen. Wiener and other supporters), the actual products of the adoption of SB 50 will be exactly what these developers want to build — more luxury apartments and condos (ten or fewer per project) as well as lucrative McMansions.

NOT the needed affordable housing.

Parking reduced

In addition, developers will not be required to provide enough parking places for tenants, which will make construction cheaper. In much of Windsor Square, parking is already scarce with many residents and their visitors unable to park near their house.

SB 50 is a give-away to the sponsoring real estate and construction industries. It likely will cause a reduction in affordable housing, especially in middle- and lower-middle income Los Angeles communities — as investors buy up more and more single-family properties to change them to reap the financial windfall being granted to developers by SB 50 — if it passes.

SB 50 not needed

We can all agree that Los Angeles needs more affordable housing. SB 50 is not the way to accomplish this worthy goal. There are many areas where large apartment buildings make sense — some of those areas are near Windsor Square. You can see large parcels to the east and west that already have been cleared for construction of big apartment buildings like many of the nearby projects that have been completed in the last few years. These projects are where they should be — on land zoned for multi-family projects. Sadly, though, most of this new construction is for expensive market-rate units. They are not affordable to many (including many who might have occupied former bungalows or small apartments on the land that was cleared for construction).

Let’s see a more thoughtful approach than SB 50 — one that will not destroy established or historic communities; one that will not be a handout to developers and the construction industry; and one that will honestly create more affordable housing.

Speak up!

Those of you in Windsor Square, or anywhere in Los Angeles,  who care about the future of your block should write or call the following immediately — to tell them SB 50 will hurt their constituents, poorer ones especially, and to urge them to STOP SB 50.

The Senate is preparing to vote today, January 29. Please contact your senators now!

Write or call:

State Senator Ben Allen (916) 651-4026

senator.allen@sen.ca.gov

State Senator Maria Elena Durazo (916) 651-4024

senator.durazo@sen.ca.gov

Assembly Member Richard Bloom (916) 319-2050

assemblymember.bloom@assembly.ca.gov

Assembly Member Miguel Santiago (916) 319-2053

assemblymember.santiago@assembly.ca.gov

 

Leave a Reply