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L.A. City Council Committee Opposes State Housing Bill

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A Los Angeles City Council committee today opposed a state bill that would allow developers to build housing that is taller or denser than local zoning laws permit if it is located near a rail station or bus line.

Los Angeles is facing a housing shortage, which has contributed to a rising cost of real estate along with an escalating level of homelessness, but Senate Bill 827 would throw the door open to too much rapid development with not enough local oversight, according to a resolution that was introduced by Councilman David Ryu and approved by the Rules, Elections and Intergovernmental Relations Committee.

Ryu's resolution says the bill would encompass vast amounts of Los Angeles, "effectively eliminating the ability for the city to engage in
planning self-determination.''

SB 827 is proposed by Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, as a way to fight the state's housing shortage and encourage public transportation over automobiles to improve the environment.

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If approved, the bill could significantly reshape neighborhoods in urban areas all over the state by overriding local zoning laws and allowing developers to build taller or more dense buildings than are currently allowed, with no parking minimums and limited design review, including in single-family neighborhoods.

"We can have all the electric vehicles and solar panels in the world, but we won't meet our climate goals without making it easier for people to live near where they work, and live near transit and drive less,'' Wiener said on Twitter about SB 827.

City Council President Herb Wesson, who is chair of the committee and seconded the resolution when it was introduced, said he had spoken to Wiener
about the bill.

"Even though I commend the senator for wanting to do what he believes is right in his mind, I just think that we as a city need to step up and we need to be engaged and we need to deal with our housing crisis, and we need to stop putting it off and it is our responsibility,'' Wesson said.

Numerous members of the public also spoke at the meeting in opposition of the bill, with many arguing it would benefit developers and real estate
speculators but not help the affordable housing situation.

"The bill makes no distinction between the wealthy exclusionary neighborhoods that Sen. Wiener claims he wants to address, and low-income communities that are at risk of displacement by widespread market-rate development,'' said Greg Bonett with Public Counsel.

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