Update on status of SB 50 (Wiener/Skinner)

Senate Appropriations Committee places bill in "suspense" file. No further action expected until 2020.
Monday, May 20, 2019

In a somewhat surprising move, the Senate Finance Committee placed SB 50, authored by Senators Wiener and Skinner, in the "suspense" file.  That action is reserved for bills that could have significant fiscal impacts and need  further study or modification.  In the case of SB 50, the committee report for the bill had flagged significant costs for analyzing and then preparing maps of the "job rich" areas across the state that would be subject to automatic upzoning under the bill, as well as extra costs for the State Housing and Community Development Department associated with monitoring compliance.

While some reports announced the bill's "death;" that overstates the action's effect.  What it actually means is that no further action will be taken this year to move the bill forward past its current committee.  This often flags a bill as needing significant modification before it can move forward, and usually means further action on the bill will be delayed until the second year of the current two-year legislative session.

The bill's supporters argue that the bill is necessary to help address the statewide housing shortage, because many cities are doing little to add more housing, especially affordable housing.  The Wiener/Skinner bill was aimed most specifically at areas that either have abundant transit or have encouraged economic growth. 

In its current form, the bill would have major impacts on Rockridge and other "transit rich" areas of Oakland, and the Bay Area.  It remains to be seen what changes (if any) will be made to the bill to blunt the strong opposition expressed by many local governments to the bill's attempt to preempt local land use controls.