Supported by a diverse coalition of organizations representing every facet of civil society in California
Why We Need More Homes Now
California suffers from a shortage of 3.5 million homes, the consequence of decades of policies at the local level that have made it functionally illegal to build housing in our most jobs-rich, high-opportunity neighborhoods and communities.
The result: Skyrocketing homelessness; families struggling with housing costs; teachers, police officers, nurses, and other vital service providers commuting long hours in spirit-breaking traffic; businesses struggling to attract workers; and the acrid pollution that clogs our air, sickens our children, and exacerbates climate change.
California State Senator Scott Wiener’s SB 50, the More Homes Act, makes it legal to build new, affordable homes in our cities while enacting some of the strongest protections ever proposed for renters and sensitive communities. It focuses new development in transit corridors, and in areas with abundant jobs, to ensure new growth does not exacerbate traffic, pollution, and climate change. It breaks down barriers to opportunity in neighborhoods with good schools and high-quality amenities.
In the spring of 2019, California YIMBY conducted a statewide poll of voters to gauge their interest in SB 50. The findings show that 66% of California voters support SB 50 and want to see more affordable homes built near jobs and transit.
In January of 2020, Sen. Wiener, California YIMBY, and our allies added new provisions to SB 50 that give cities two years after the bill is signed to develop a housing plan that works for their specific needs. These “local flexibility” amendments were made in response to cities that said they wanted to achieve the goals of SB 50 with plans that were more customized to their conditions.
Under the Local Flexibility provisions of SB 50, local governments have two years to take the lead in creating housing plans that will make it more affordable for Californians to live near their jobs, transit, and amenities like good schools, daycare, and medical services. Cities that don’t have plans in place will be able to use the other provisions of SB 50 to solve their housing shortages. These provisions focus on changes to zoning near transit stops, and in communities rich in jobs and amenities.
In addition, “sensitive communities” that are under-resourced and need to pair zoning reform with anti-displacement policy will not experience any zoning changes until 5 years after the bill is signed. Senator Wiener, California YIMBY and our allies are working to ensure these communities receive state resources to support the planning process during the 5-year period. The bill still includes the most aggressive affordable housing provisions ever proposed in state law.
SB 50 will result in more economically integrated neighborhoods across the state. By legalizing the development of mixed-income housing in high-opportunity areas, low-income Californians will gain access to the same services and amenities enjoyed by wealthier residents. SB 50 helps break the cycle of poverty, which is closely tied to historic and ongoing exclusion in our housing policies.
Under SB 50, all housing projects will still be subject to environmental review, as well as existing labor and employment standards for new construction. Local development fees, community engagement processes, and architectural design review will remain as-is. Cities that have more stringent protections for renters, or higher targets for affordable housing, will be able to maintain those standards.
The Latest on SB 50
ICYMI: Majority of California Voters Support SB 50
Equity, Affordable Housing Groups Across California Endorse SB 50 – the More HOMES Act
California's largest newspapers come out strong for SB 50