(UPDATE, 12/5/18: California State Sen. Scott Wiener is now rebooting his pro-gentrification, fatally flawed bill SB 827. Killed in committee earlier this year, it has a different title — SB 50 — but the bill still benefits corporate, luxury-housing developers. Like its predecessor, SB 50 will worsen gentrification and displacement throughout California.)
Housing Is A Human Right and dozens of other housing justice and tenants groups have successfully fought to defeat the pro-gentrification bill SB 827. Widely considered one of the most draconian and troubling housing bills in recent years, SB 827 failed to receive enough votes on Tuesday to move out of the California State Senate Transportation and Housing Committee.
“The bill is dead,” said Damien Goodmon, director of Housing Is A Human Right, an anti-gentrification, pro-affordable housing project by AIDS Healthcare Foundation.
Authored by California State Senator Scott Wiener, SB 827 had been denounced by housing justice, tenants rights, and homeowner groups as well as dozens of municipalities. Mayor Eric Garcetti and the L.A. City Council officially opposed the bill, with Councilman Paul Koretz describing it as “pure insanity.”
In an opposition letter to Wiener, the Los Angeles-based Black Community, Clergy and Labor Alliance (BCCLA) wrote: “Private interests and practices intended to reclaim urban space to profit a global investor class and real estate speculators are direct threats to our right to the homes and communities that we built in the face of their oppression.
“Unfortunately, public policies like SB 827 are not a defense, but rather an aid for these oppressive and discriminatory policies and interests. And there is nothing courageous, new or innovative about advancing land grabs and economic exploitation.”
The BCCLA noted that Wiener, who’s based in San Francisco, refused to meet with African American leaders in Los Angeles to seek their feedback — although L.A., particularly its communities of colors, would have been dramatically impacted by SB 827.
The bill sought to end local control over land-use policy decisions, and prevent community groups from having input on local land-use policy decisions, if a developer sought to build a dense housing project near a busy transit stop.
Housing Is A Human Right and many other housing justice organizations believed the bill was a political give-away to wealthy developers and their global investors, who would build almost exclusively luxury housing through SB 827 and would reap billions in profits from SB 827. Activists believed the bill did not directly, and substantively, address California’s affordable housing crisis.
Activists also argued that if SB 827 became law, it would cause a massive luxury-housing glut in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and other municipalities, and would worsen gentrification and displacement crises in California. All of which would fuel an already existing affordable-housing and homeless crises in the state’s urban centers.
During Tuesday’s transportation and housing committee hearing, State Senator Mike McGuire said, “I’ve been concerned that [SB 827] has been a market-rate housing bill.” He added that the bill needed stronger displacement and tenant protections. McGuire opposed the bill.
State Senator Ben Allen noted: “Density for density’s sake does not necessarily lead to affordability — just look at Manhattan.” Allen also opposed SB 827.
“We have to make the right planning decisions,” said State Senator Jim Beall, chair of the transportation and housing committee.
The state senator noted that legislators need to go into communities, such as South Los Angeles, and get feedback from neighborhood leaders. Beall opposed the bill — and promised to go to South L.A.