Senate Passes Bill to Boost Housing Production in the Coastal Zone

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Special to the Vanguard

Sacramento, CA – On Tuesday, the California Senate passed SB 951, which would remove barriers to housing construction in the coastal zone.

“While housing unaffordability is an issue throughout California, the added layers of discretionary permitting in the coastal zone have made the problem especially acute near the coast,” Senator Scott Wiener’s office explained in a release late on Tuesday.  “This affordability crisis has had a profound impact on the racial and economic diversity of the coast, as well as the greenhouse gas emissions in the region.”

Senator Wiener, the bill’s author, said, “By boosting housing production in the coastal zone, SB 951 will improve quality of life for Californians while slashing our climate emissions.”

According to a Stanford Environmental Law Journal report, within one kilometer of coastal access, white populations increase by 25 percent, while Hispanic and Latino populations fall 52 percent, and Black populations fall 60 percent. Coastal communities also have, on average, 18 percent fewer households below the poverty line.

According to a Legislative Analyst Office’s Report in 2015, the lack of affordable housing means workers in coastal communities often commute 10 percent further each day than their inland counterparts. Transportation is the leading source of carbon emissions in California, and these extra long commutes threaten the very coastal resources the Coastal Act was passed to protect by exacerbating the climate crisis.

SB 951 will aid housing production in the coastal zone—and driving emissions reductions—by aligning the timeline of the Commission’s approval of amendments to Local Coastal Plans with the timeline for rezonings required under housing element law.

Additionally, SB 951 clarifies that the Commission does not have jurisdiction to appeal projects in San Francisco that are within the permitted uses for a specific parcel where there is an LCP in place. Given these uses were present in the LCP when the Commission granted approval, projects that fall within these established parameters should not be worthy of an appeal, solely on the basis of the new use of the parcel.

The bill is sponsored by Mayor London Breed.

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