In one of the most dramatic closes to a legislative session in recent memory, and after countless phone calls, hours waiting to give public comment, nights of policy analysis, and days activating allies on social media, the rollercoaster 2019 California legislative session closed last week. After the summer saw critical housing bills like SB 50 mired in gridlock, the majority of SFHAC’s endorsed bills ended up making it through both the State Senate and Assembly and on to the governor’s desk. Governor Newsom has until October 13th to either approve or veto all that pending legislation, and while we’re optimistic that the governor will sign off on all the bills SFHAC is working on, we’ll keep you up to date in case one last advocacy push is needed.
The most significant and perhaps surprising result as legislators return to their districts on break has to be the support for and success of accessory dwelling unit (ADU’s, or “granny units”) legislation in 2019. As detailed by our friends over at CaliforniaYIMBY, an ADU is now legal on every lot in California! Accessory Dwelling Units are already helping to provide some of the ‘infill’ and ‘missing middle’ homes that could help meet the state’s lofty production goals. ADU’s can also offer more “naturally affordable” new housing options that homeowners can use as a more accessible tool to help ease pressure on the market.
While the story of the year remains the abrupt announcement that Senate Bill 50, the More HOMES Act from Senator Scott Weiner (D-San Francisco), wouldn’t come up for a vote until 2020, the stagnation of summer broke with a flurry of voter engagement across California and coalition-building in Sacramento. SFHAC believes in supporting tenants, and while it’s exciting to see growing momentum for efforts to slow displacement, we also know that meaningful action at the state level to increase housing production has to accompany long overdue reinvestment in California and the Bay Area’s most neglected communities.
SB 50 is a crucial opportunity to reduce congestion, pollution, and the prioritization of urban space to store cars rather than house humans. Opposing building taller apartment buildings near transit centers goes against everything we understand about sustainable land use, and goes against our core value of believing everyone deserves a home. The opposition voices won’t be the only ones in the conversation; SFHAC’s policy team is already working to strengthen the coalition effort and build momentum to ensure the bill comes back in 2020 and charges ahead.