EDITOR’S NOTE: This article has been updated to include a comment from California Assemblywoman Marie Waldron.
REGION — A controversial state bill that would greatly reduce local control of zoning regulations, was tabled by Senate Democrats on May 16 in Sacramento.
“Since it was a Senate bill, we haven’t analyzed it thoroughly, but as a general principle, any solution to the housing crisis needs the support of local governments and housing advocates. I’m disappointed that SB 50 fell short of that goal.”
Proponents of the bill say the legislation could kill several birds with a single stone, creating more affordable housing, placing housing closer to public transportation centers and reducing traffic.
SB 50 proponents also said the bill would ultimately lead to tackling climate change by reducing greenhouse gas-emitting vehicle traffic.
At its May 1 meeting, the Escondido City Council signaled interest that it may take action against SB 50 if passed.
John Masson, a conservative member of the City Council who represents District 2, expressed satisfaction that the California Legislature had halted the bill.
But Masson said it should take an alternative path to boost housing development.
“The fact that it didn’t pass is a good thing for local control,” Masson told The Coast News. “Unfortunately, between state overregulation and NIMBY’s we are unable to meet our housing needs across all sectors. If the the California Legislature is serious about creating housing, they would reform CEQA.”
SB 50 had a provision within it which would have exempted housing developed under the aegis of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
The provision subsequently came under fire by various state environmental and civil rights groups.
The legislation could still be reconsidered in 2020.
Senator Toni Atkins—the President Pro Tempore who represents Solana Beach, Del Mar, and the coastal region going south toward Coronado—supported the bill.
Atkins said that she believes it is important not to rush the policymaking process.
“To be clear, the bill is not dead, and this is the first year of a two-year session,” said Atkins. “Short of significantly amending the bill and limiting its applications in large swaths of the state, there was no path to move forward this year.”
Steve Horn is a San Diego, CA-based reporter covering Escondido and San Marcos. He works in a full-time capacity for The Real News Network, an online broadcast news outlet, covering climate change. He has worked as a staff investigative reporter for the publications Prison Legal News and Criminal Legal News and as an investigative reporter for the climate news website DeSmog.com. Contact Steve at firstname.lastname@example.org.