California’s hottest housing bill was just unexpectedly shelved. What you need to know

Shock. Depression. Relief.

Those were just some of the reactions as the year’s most controversial state housing bill met its sudden demise. But very few people—supporters, opponents, and even the author himself—can claim to have seen this coming.

In a procedural vote this morning, Senate Bill 50, which would have prohibited many cities from banning four-to-five-story apartment buildings around public transit and effectively ended local zoning rules exclusively reserved for single-family homes, failed to advance out of a key state Senate committee.

Its fate dealt an unexpected setback to pro-development forces in the state Capitol and a major victory for defenders of local control over housing decisions. It also throws an obstacle into Gov. Gavin Newsom’s path as he tries to goad the state into building a lot more housing.

While it’s theoretically conceivable that the bill could be resuscitated this year, odds are the earliest it will be reconsidered is January 2020.

“Even though this is an intensely controversial bill, we were in a good place and thought we had the votes on the Senate floor,” said author Sen. Scott Wiener, a San Francisco Democrat. “It was surprising to me when I learned that the bill was going to be converted into a two-year bill.”

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"California’s hottest housing bill was just unexpectedly shelved. What you need to know"; by Matt Levin and Ben Christopher; CALmatters; May 16, 2019

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