Will SB 827 help California's housing crisis?

California is in the grip of a tightening housing crisis as supply is unable to keep up with demand and more working and middle class families see ever larger chunks of their paychecks going to pay the rent or mortgage payment.

In response, California State Senator Scott Wiener of San Francisco has introduced legislation in Sacramento called the Transit Zoning Bill, or Senate Bill 827.

The bill changes zoning laws to allow for taller and denser construction near transit stations and heavily traveled bus routes.

If passed, Wiener says his bill could create an enormous amount of housing in California by changing what’s allowed to be built in neighborhoods. According to Wiener, the bill would also help mitigate other problems, such as traffic, sprawl and pollution.

But even before its first legislative committee hearing in Sacramento scheduled for this week, SB 827 has earned plenty of enemies. They argue Wiener’s bill is heavy-handed, could turbocharge gentrification, and poses a threat to neighborhood character all over the state.

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California Senator Scott Wiener in San Francisco. Photo credit: Saul Gonzalez