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Bay Area Lawmaker Revives Proposal For More Housing Near Transit

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, announced Tuesday he has introduced a bill that would allow for the construction of more homes near city hubs throughout the state, while protecting renters and vulnerable residents currently living there from displacement.

Senate Bill 50, the More HOMES (Housing, Opportunity, Mobility, Equity and Stability) Act, follows a similar attempt Wiener made at housing legislation earlier this year and would eliminate restrictive low-density zoning near transit and job centers and create new zoning standards for those areas.

The new zoning would clear the way for the construction of apartment buildings in those areas, allowing for more people to live and work within areas connected by public transit, and thus reducing carbon emissions by taking more vehicles off California roads.

Dublin BART transit village
Transit village at Dublin/Pleasanton BART station (CBS)

Furthermore, Wiener's office said SB 50 would reduce pressure to create urban sprawl in areas prone to wildfires by creating more affordable and low-income housing within city centers.

• ALSO READ: California Adds More Cars To Roadways As Economy, Housing Costs Rise

"We must take bold steps now to address our severe housing crisis and reduce our carbon footprint," Wiener said in a news release.  "California's housing shortage hurts our most vulnerable communities, working families, young people, our environment and our economy. It also increases homelessness."

SB 50 is modeled after Senate Bill 827, which also advocated for more housing near city and transit centers and was introduced by Wiener earlier this year, but did not pass.

Several California mayors have already voiced support for Wiener's new bill, including San Francisco Mayor London Breed, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, Emeryville Mayor John Bauters, Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.

• ALSO READ: Lawmakers Seek To Remove Affordable Housing Roadblock In State Constitution

Breed said, "San Francisco, along with the entire Bay Area, needs to create more housing if we are going to address the out of control housing costs that are causing displacement and hurting the diversity of our communities."

She said she'd work with Wiener to create "more housing opportunities near transit, while maintaining strong renter protections and demolition restrictions so we are focusing development on empty lots and underutilized commercial spaces."

In addition to creating new zoning standards near city and transit centers, SB 50 also would include provisions to protect renters and low-income communities and create more access to public-funded services, according to Wiener's office.

© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Bay City News Service contributed to this report.


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