Why Was California’s Radical Housing Bill so Unpopular?

April 20, 2018

What Wiener and his co-sponsor Nancy Skinner, representing the East Bay, proposed was nothing less than to upend the entire framework for the past century of American racial politics and wealth building. But by forcing politicians and organizations to lay down their cards on restrictive residential zoning, SB 827 has neatly cataloged views over local control, affordability, transportation, and the environment in ways that observers sometimes had to project for themselves. It was, Berkeley-based housing activist Randy Shaw wrote, “the biggest public debate ever held in California over urban housing policy.” That debate has revealed hypocrisies alongside genuine concerns, and its collective effect has been both to defeat the bill and to increase the chances something like it could become law in the near future.