With only four (4) of the thirteen (13) members of the State Senate’s Transportation and Housing Committee voting in favor of advancing Senator Scott Wiener’s “transit-rich housing bonus” bill, the controversial SB 827 is DOA this legislative year but is expected to be rewritten and reappear in 2019.

The bill as amended would have paved the way for residential buildings to rise up to five stories (55 feet) in height within a quarter mile radius of rail and ferry stops, regardless of prevailing height and density limits, and up to four stories (45 feet) in height within a half mile of said transit.

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by GR

    This is sad. Sometimes politicians have to take an initiative for the collective good.

    • Posted by another anon

      Fantastic news for those of us who have worked so hard to own our homes.

      • Posted by Justin

        How would that bill have changed that? So much nonsense.

      • Posted by Anonymous

        The sooner Boomers are all gone, the better.

        • Posted by Tipster

          The boomers were the Woodstock generation in their youth who turned right based on their life experiences. The same thing will happen to generation X as they gain life experience. Their attitudes come from knowing more. As they die off, the next generation’s attitudes will change just like theirs did. It’s always been this way, and the younger know-it-alls can always hardly wait for the more experienced generations to die off, only to turn into them.

          • Posted by Anon123

            Agreed with a few exceptions like Bernie Sanders – guess he didn’t learn much over the years 🙂

          • Posted by jwb

            Bernie’s not a Boomer, he’s too old for that. He’s a Silent.

          • Posted by ItMe

            This is very wrong. Any casual observer can see that the politics of the “woodstock generation” — environmentalism, looser gender roles, freer drugs, vegetarianism — have all been adopted by society at large and boomers don’t pretend that these views have changed. Having succeeded, it’s not surprising these same people are suddently “right”-wing in an attempt to freeze society in their image. They haven’t changed. Their ideas just aren’t new anymore and, as old ideas, they define conservative politics not progressive ones.

            Newer generations just happen to have newer ideas. They’ll turn “right” as their ideas are adopted, and their proponents move from implementation to preservation.

          • Posted by Miraloma Man

            No way is this Gen Xer ever going to go Fascist like the Boomer kreeps.

          • Posted by Anon123

            You are correct jwb – he is a bit older, as is Nancy Pelosi. But you don’t usually associate the Silent generation with progressive ideas… maybe they were just born a few years before their time. I think their policies are very much in line with the ideas brought about by the boomer generation.

      • Posted by Hunter

        Such an ignorant response. I also own my home and welcome much denser construction in SF, particularly on the suburban West Side.

        • Posted by oakland lover

          I agree with you Hunter as well, also as a happy homeownder in an affluent suburb where any development idea is met with “GOD FORBID, NO, it will hurt our property values” yelling….which of course has never happened once! Build density on transit and stop allowing suburban sprawl. We need the land for food and open space!

        • Posted by Sabbie

          Except that goes against the point of this legislation, which is to build density around transit hubs. The transit is so great from west side SF that every morning on the eastbound thoroughfares there are major traffic jams, and third world crowding on MUNI. And on sunny weekends, Lincoln is a nightmare. Sorry but the current infrastructure can’t handle any more density on the west side. Build up around BART and Caltrain, build small everywhere else.

          • Posted by spencer

            agree with you. until there is better public transit to west side, density doesnt make sense. you can get to downtown quicker from oakland than you can from the richmond 4 miles away. western soma is walkable to downtown and is zoned for 5 floors max. that is ripe to upzone, and the whole mission is way underdeveloped. its mostly <3 floors and is the best location for transit in all of SF. we could put 10,000 new units in western soma and 10,000 new units in the mission over the next 5 years, and it would take care of traffic problems and housing problems

          • Posted by Ohlone Californio

            Re SOMA and the Mission, the various powers that be have already reneged on the Eastern Neighborhoods Plan with spot zoning edit after spot zoning edit.

          • Posted by SFRealist

            This bill doesn’t prevent SF from improving MUNI (which is 100% disgraceful). We could build housing on the west side AND improve MUNI.

          • Posted by Sabbie

            Nothing less than a subway would make a dent.

          • Posted by SFRealist

            One way to pay for improvements to MUNI is property taxes. New buildings are a great way to increase property tax revenue.

  2. Posted by aerel

    Terrible news.

  3. Posted by bachman_erlich_overdrive

    All politics are local.

  4. Posted by Jim Jonas

    Great news! Wiener’s bill would have been devastating to all of California and especially SF

    • Posted by Justin

      In what way?

      • Posted by two beers

        By adding fuel to the already-skyrocketing gentrification that is displacing thousands of working class families.

        • Posted by Anonymous

          Explicitly anti-displacement language was inserted throughout the bill. But no, easier to deny reality.

          • Posted by Cynthia

            That language would have been useless.

            Example: tenants would have had a “right of return” if they were displaced — so, after three to ten years, during which they’ve uprooted and found housing elsewhere, they get to return. Which means they won’t.

          • Posted by Anonymous

            You’re omitting other protections that were written in.

        • Posted by Guy

          Yes, because as everyone knows the best way to decrease the value of something is to make it scarcer.

          • Posted by Chris

            Cynthia, the bill would NOT have overridden existent rent control or historic protection or inclusionary housing laws. Also, developers can still displace tenants now under existing zoning subject to the same controls. The bill would have simply allowed for denser development. Clearly you have either drunk the Kool-Aide served to you by the NIMBY crowd, or you are intentionally being dishonest. Having less housing makes existing housing more expensive and more valuable, and just encourages landlords to use tools like the Ellis Act and owner move-in evictions to get rid of tenants.

        • Posted by Justin

          Total nonsense. How are you going to build for the working class families of today and tomorrow? Magical thinking?

    • Posted by Wai Yip Tung

      The status quo is devastating to all of California and especially SF.

  5. Posted by SFRealist

    Great news for the value of my condo!

    Terrible news for the environment (and young people).

  6. Posted by jeremyharrison415

    Should be a nice talking point for London Breed: “Jane Kim voted to reduce new housing construction in San Francisco, at a time when housing is too expensive for most San Franciscans”.

    • Posted by SFMichael

      If San Francisco wants to build more housing we don’t need this bill to pass to do it. It would just prohibit The City (or any other localities) from saying ‘no’. It isn’t needed to get them to say ‘yes’.

      • Posted by Anonymous

        40+ years of atrocious planning and dereliction of duty on the part of the powers that be proves otherwise.

      • Posted by jeremyharrison415

        My comment isn’t on the merits of SB 827. It’s just on politics. Kim voted to oppose the bill in the BOS, while Breed didn’t, and just said that it needs amending. The polling shows this to be a 2 horse race between Breed and Kim (Leno is trailing by far). And Kim would be a disaster as a mayor – so…I’m just saying “Here’s a nice talking point against her, London”.

        Of course, the list of talking points against Kim is almost limitless…

        • Posted by Dan

          Another poll shows Leno ahead, Breed just behind, and Kim in third. The race is quite fluid.

  7. Posted by Frank C.

    Theoretically good policy, but was politically hopeless. You don’t “target” homeowners in the way this bill potentially did (please note the quotes around the word target). Meanwhile, the state has tons of poorly utilized and well-located retail land – this is a more realistic political lift. Yes, there are major prop 13 implications with retail land, but hey, as if any of this was going to be easy? At least with retail, you don’t displace residents directly.

    And a lot of pro-housing activists need to learn that demonizing opponents and learn about the basics of coalition building and legislative success. You don’t just “make awesome arguments” – rationality does not drive policy making, unfortunately, never did, and never will.

    • Posted by jwb

      Recent history has taught us that it’s pointless to build coalitions with jerks. It’s easier and faster to just wait for them to all be dead. That’s how gay marriage came to be accepted: the people who were opposed to it were all old, and they all died. Housing policy has a similar demographic solution.

      • Posted by Frank C.

        False re: gay marriage. People got the signals from culture that it was OK, and positions changed. You can see this in opinion polling. There wasn’t enough of a die off. BTW, plenty of younger people in the USA younger than 60 and older than 30 are opposed to gay marriage. They’re just a minority, and concentrated geographically.

        False re: politics. You usually do need some of the “jerk” vote, except in localities that are overwhelmingly left or right of center. In the state of CA, the “left” is not monolithic. Hence, coalitions are necessary.

      • Posted by Frank C.

        Additional comment: Housing in this case is not dissimilar from health care. While you wait for the “jerks” to be dead, people suffer and need policies that help them. I saw nonsensical arguments like this one made against the ACA, which has saved many lives. Such ‘perfect legislation’ proponents would have sacrificed this progress to wait for a more perfect solution in the future, when all the people who would oppose higher taxes for universal health care would be dead. And then perfection would be achieved, somehow.

      • Posted by Notcom

        Ancient history – and modern – teaches us that it’s probably counterproductive to call “jerks” the very people you want to build a coalition with.

  8. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    SB 827 was way too aggressive on the extent of TOD zones. Instead of going all the way fine grained to “high frequency bus service”, it should have stopped at heavy rail and high frequency trolleys.

    Start there, see how well it works, and then extend to BRT and other lower volume services if it is successful.

    • Posted by jwb

      Why should rail be favored over any kind of bus? It doesn’t make a lot of sense that the train station in Gilroy, with one train per day, is “transit oriented” while my house which directly fronts a bus stop with 12 buses per hour is not.

      • Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

        1) Rail cannot be so easily moved away from the TOD
        2) Rail is generally both faster and higher volume than other modes.

        As for Gilroy, I agree so maybe add a frequency criteria for heavy rail too so places like Salinas that receive two trains a day aren’t pressured to upzone. Not that upzoning would result in a building boom in downtown Salinas, but it would at least allay Manhattanization FUD in the farmlands.

    • Posted by Pablito

      Absolutely agreed. Way too aggressive on the extent of TOD zones. I think a more narrowly tailored proposal would have been received a lot more favorably.

  9. Posted by scott f

    I look forward to all the Supervisors who said “we do need more housing density, but not like this, through local control!” introducing legislation to upzone the Westside.

  10. Posted by Donald

    Plutocrats and oligarchs own California, and that will never change, pending massive revolt.

  11. Posted by 101

    Just shows what created and sustained this housing mess in the first place.

  12. Posted by Jack

    Congratulations to the rich old white NIMBY’s who have been greedily screwing over everyone else for 40 years in and around SF and California. Their foolish fear of change and intelligent growth has shot everyone in the foot again.

    This bill could have taken much needed steps to alleviate our insane housing crisis, one that local politicians have shown time and time again they won’t do anything about, but these cowards showed they don’t have the intelligence or strength to do anything about the issue.

    Huge thanks to Scott Wiener for trying to actually do something, everyone else in leadership has failed. The greed of the old and rich, and the baby boomers knows no bounds, and the shame of homelessness and continual evictions / affordability crisis lies directly on your heads. Everyone remember: Jane Kim voted against this bill and is one of the cities leading NIMBY’s, let’s make sure she doesn’t get voted in as Mayor.

    • Posted by Anon123

      So much anger – NIMBY’s come in all colors. What usually unites them is home ownership. If you plunge your hard earned money down for a small percentage ownership in a home and sign the dotted line on the mortgage you might understand them better.

      I give Wiener credit for trying though, if you believe that more dense housing will solve the crisis this was one possible solution.

      • Posted by anon2anon

        Do you not believe that more dense housing wouldn’t resolve the housing crisis?

        Though denser housing might not be the only solution, how can you say that it isn’t a major factor that would reduce the price and increase the availability of housing?

        • Posted by Anon123

          I am not 100% convinced that building more housing in the limited space of SF will make it significantly more affordable – for one, it is expensive to construct high-rise and more so if you have to purchase the land with existing housing.

          I believe that supply and demand applies to housing cost to a great extend, and limiting supply with a bunch of restrictions such as inclusion of PDR space and 30% below market requirement will increase the price of housing.

        • Posted by Brahma (incensed renter)

          It’s one thing to assert, based on logical deduction from first econ principles, that building more dense housing would potentially slow down the rate of increase in housing costs.

          It’s quite another to jump to the conclusion that this now dead piece of legislation would result in enough new housing being built (at prices affordable to meaningful percentage of the current population) that the housing crisis would be resolved in any reasonable amount of time.

      • Posted by scott f

        As a homeowner, I would rather have a little less wealth in return for living in a diverse affordable city where my neighbors are not homeless or living in mortal fear of eviction every day.

        Being concerned with your property values is fine if it means maintaining your house well, cleaning up your street, tending a garden in your front yard etc, but it becomes toxic if you’re using it to justify keeping new neighbors away. That isn’t right and will eventually make the state unlivable for everybody. Property values can’t be held up as an absolute thing over inclusion and community. It’s time to say yes in our backyards.

        • Posted by Oaklandlover

          Scott f, logical, balanced thoughtful approach. Agreed 100%.

      • Posted by Jack

        I do own a home; in Berkeley. I’m just not greedy and evil enough to try and keep everyone else out so I can have the perception of more “value” in my home. I understand that we’re all in this together also understand that the fear of change leads exactly to one place, where we are now: a dysfunctional unaffordable nightmare where it’s normal to see homeless encampments 2 blocks away from mansions.

        Those against smart growth are against it for incredibly selfish reasons which aren’t even actual things that happen in reality. Since when has building more housing ever hurt anyone’s existing home value? Give me some examples. Nope, it’s just greed and fear and small petty selfishness and the result is putting more and more people on the street every day.

    • Posted by M L

      Substitute old for black and you wouldn’t be proud of yourself, would you? I keep seeing ageism on this site, and it is hurtful.

      We are all suffering from the Trump whether we know it or not, and throwing around more anger against whatever group doesn’t happen to be ours does not help with the level of anxiety so many of us feel in this time.

  13. Posted by SFrentier

    Overall this is good news for landlords. Sucks not being able to raise rents the past 2 years. How would you like not getting a raise at work for two years? Looks like mr. wiener got too big for his britches.

  14. Posted by NJ

    “The bill as amended would have paved the way for residential buildings to rise up to five stories (55 feet) in height within a quarter mile radius of rail and ferry stops, regardless of prevailing height and density limits, and up to four stories (45 feet) in height within a half mile of said transit.”

    The bill was not only about increasing height. It would have also eliminated density restrictions within 1/4 mile of train and frequent bus stops. That IMO would have been the bigger impact overall.

    • Posted by scott f

      Agree, density decontrol on its own would have been a big help and hopefully we can still push for that locally. It would allow each of the monster homes SocketSite just covered in Visitacion Valley to be 3 or 4 apartments instead, a much better outcome 2 blocks from an express bus.

  15. Posted by Where the Leadership?

    This bill would have allowed massive density increases virtually throughout the City by virtue of the proximity to transit stops, and does anyone really believe inept SFMTA could handle the dramatic rise in population?? Not a chance! #FireEdReiskin

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