California

Housing a ‘Drastic’ Issue, says Assembly Speaker, but Critics Call SB 50 an ‘Overreach’

Saying something "drastic has to be done" to increase California's supply of housing, the leader of the California State Assembly appeared to give qualified support Sunday to a controversial bill that would force cities to allow high density development along transit lines.

Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Paramount) did not endorse SB 50 by State Sen. Scott Weiner (D-San Francisco) but said a decision to exempt small counties from the housing density requirement was a "step in the right direction."

"Whether it is SB 50 or not, we are going to work out those details...we know that in certain corridors increasing density makes a tremendous amount of sense," Rendon said on NBC4's "News Conference" program.

A much different assessment was offered by former Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky who referred to the Weiner bill as "an overreach with no middle ground."

Yaroslavsky says SB 50 will have an impact far beyond subway stations and streetcar stops.

"Weiner's bill extends to virtually every bus line in the LA basin...any single family neighborhood within a quarter mile of a bus stop would be re-zoned for multiple family development...I'm hoping the legislature will come to its senses," he said.

Yaroslavsky, who serves as the director of the Los Angeles Initiative at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, says his city has built more new housing over the past several years than the state has required and added 27,000 apartment units last year alone. He criticized last week's amendment that made exempted smaller counties from the density requirement.

"If you want to create affordable housing, don't exempt the affluent cities; don't exempt...Tiburon in Marin County," he said. "Treat everyone the same."

Meanwhile, the Assembly Speaker says housing is just one of several issues that the legislature will focus on this session...along with wildfire response and preparation and water policy.

Rendon also had a message for the hundreds of parents who protested at the capitol last week against a bill that would tighten exemptions for childhood vaccinations.

"I believe in the enlightenment; I believe in science,” he said on Sunday's program. "The theories they are clinging to have been debunked over and over again. You shouldn't get your medical information from the internet."

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