Reacting to the failure of SB 50 to move out of the Senate, the groups Alliance for Community Transit-Los Angeles (ACT-LA), Public Counsel, PolicyLink, Western Center on Law and Poverty, Public Advocates, and the California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation made the following statement:
It is time to reject false choices and get serious about affordable housing and community stability.
The debate around SB 50, and SB 827 before it, has too often been reduced to a false choice: protect the status quo of exclusionary zoning or embrace a trickle-down market-based model. While this simple NIMBY-YIMBY binary fuels online arguments and frames the public narrative, millions of Californians continue to suffer without appropriate solutions. We reject the status quo, but we also reject the notion that the low-income communities and communities of color most harmed by the planning and zoning decisions of the past should be forced to accept new policies that fall short of true equity and inclusion.
Last week, a group of 28 community-based and statewide organizations that have been in negotiations with the author and sponsors of SB 50 took an “oppose unless amended” position on the bill. We took this position only after 15 months of discussion to resolve our concerns. The issues we have raised are critical to ensure that zoning reform does not make the housing crisis worse for low-income renters. Despite important improvements to the bill, SB 50 was not bold enough or targeted enough to address the affordable housing needs of low-income Californians and did not include meaningful protections for communities most sensitive to displacement.
After the final SB 50 vote, Senate President Toni Atkins rightly acknowledged that there is still much work to be done to address the housing crisis and called for substantive alternatives. Our organizations have and will continue to put forward tangible community-centered proposals for inclusive and equitable development. We have supported and sponsored legislation that breaks down barriers to new inclusive housing development in historically exclusionary neighborhoods and we have put forward thoughtful and nuanced frameworks to maximize deeply affordable housing production and protect vulnerable low-income neighborhoods. These ideas did not die with SB 50, and we remain committed to working with any elected official who is ready to do the difficult but necessary work of moving past false choices and finding real solutions.