San Diego

Housing Supporters Crowd Civic Center to Back ‘More Homes Bill'

The fight over California's housing shortage continued Monday with some local protesters saying "yes in my backyard" to a proposal to build more homes in some single-family neighborhoods.

Some people who live in those neighborhoods are saying "not so fast."

Senate Bill 50, the so-called “More Homes Bill” that’s dead for the moment, would have increased more home building near mass transit, job centers, good schools and in single-family home neighborhoods.

A group made of different community organizations rallied for housing in the Civic Center Plaza Monday evening. Rachel Stevens with YIMBY Democrats wants California Senate President pro tem Toni Atkins to bring the housing bill back for a vote after it was killed for the rest of the year.

"The status quo has not been working. Cities have not been doing their part to provide housing for us and we are starting to feel it," said Stevens.

Stevens even wrote up a script for protestors to read when calling Atkins' office.

"We were really at least hoping that she would push it through for us, right," said Stevens.

One reason the bill had pushback was it would allow the state zoning control, likely permitting multi-story apartment complexes and several homes on land zoned for single-family homes.

Ruberta Castro has lived in the hills of a Clairemont neighborhood for more than 50 years. She is aware affordable housing is a problem.

"We spent $24,000 for this house and I’m not sure what it’s worth, but $700,000 at least," said Castro. "Young people are leaving the area and going to other states because they can’t afford to live here."

But she has a mixed reaction to SB 50 and figures her neighbors would too.

"The traffic on this street is horrendous so that's one thing that would keep them from wanting it," said Castro. "I think along the trolley line would be a good place because then they have the low cost transportation as well.”

She told NBC 7 it would be too crowded and not safe for her street, specifically.

A Democratic committee chair, Senator Anthony Portantino, blocked the bill.

Senator Atkins’ office sent the following statement to NBC 7 in regards to SB 50.

“Senator Wiener is a statewide leader on housing policy. By authoring SB 50, Senator Wiener has created the space for a difficult, but critically important, conversation for policymakers. As a two-year bill, the Legislature can continue this critical conversation with housing advocates, local communities and all interested parties. I am grateful to Senator Wiener for his relentless commitment to increasing housing supply in our state.

I will not circumvent the decision made by the Appropriations Committee Chair on SB 50. Regardless of my own personal feelings about this critical issue, part of my job as the leader of the Senate is to uphold the authority and decisions of committee chairs and take into consideration the views of committee members. To be clear, the bill is not dead, and this is the first year of a two-year session. 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. More work needs to be done, and there is no better leader on housing to do that work than Senator Wiener.”

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