SLO Chamber of Commerce speaker promotes sweetheart deal for developers

State Senator Scott Wiener

OPINION by ALLAN COOPER

The San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce is featuring State Senator Scott Wiener as their keynote speaker for their Friday, March 22, “Housing Summit” which will begin at 12:00 noon in Grace Church. Scott Wiener is the author of Senate Bill 50.

SB 50 bans cities from rejecting big residential luxury developments containing a small number of affordable units if first, they are proposed within a ¼-mile radius of a bus stop, or second, within a 1/2-mile radius of any rail or train stop. SB 50 overturns single-family zoning in areas that lack major transit and are “above-median income, jobs-rich, with good public schools.”

And SB 50 encourages 75-feet and 85-feet-tall luxury towers in single-family areas that are either close to transit or close to jobs and good schools. The height limit is not 45 feet and 55 feet, as Senator Scott Wiener falsely implies, because the Density Bonus Law allows up to 30 additional feet.

This is essentially a real estate development bill, a sweetheart deal for developers…not an affordable housing bill. Affordable housing can be realistically created through rent control (another state-wide rent control bill is being proposed in Sacramento as we speak) and through public subsidized housing.

Opponents of SB 50 have said that these incentives/concessions could have been made available to the local housing authorities instead of to the private sector development community because the housing authorities can provide 100 percent affordable housing instead of the usual 5 to 10 percent allocation, and the housing authorities are local and will work with local officials to find the most compatible sites on which to locate this housing – not in low-density residential neighborhoods.

The obvious adverse impacts of tall buildings (up to 85 feet) being placed in neighborhoods comprised of one-story residences is that tall buildings will block your views and sunlight, encroach on your privacy and increase the ambient background noise.

The less obvious adverse impacts, because the developers are not obligated to provide off-site improvements nor are they obligated to provide parking, will be traffic congestion, less on-street parking and increased burdens on our sewer and water capacity which we will have to pay for.

Furthermore, this bill will force local jurisdictions to “rubber stamp” approval of these projects without a public hearing, without an environmental study, and without design and planning oversight. You can only imagine how ugly these projects will be.

Ironically, if you are a property owner, this bill will be very good for your pocketbook even though it will have disastrous impacts on your quality of life. This bill will drive up the overall cost of land through across-the-board “up-zoning” (i.e., increasing the development potential of low-density zoned housing).

This bill will have the long term effect of putting public housing authorities out of business because it will drive up the cost of land remaining to be purchased by the housing authorities. To offset the high cost of land, the vast majority of these developments will be comprised of luxury housing units. This will result in driving up rents and displacing lower-income renters.

Even though Senator Scott Wiener is a self-described “progressive,” his re-election campaigns have been generously subsidized by the development community.

What can we do about this? Share this information with your friends and family. Then show up on March 22, between 11:00 a.m. and 12 noon in Mitchell Park, San Luis Obispo immediately across the street from Grace Church (1350 Osos Street), to voice your opposition to Senator Wiener’s and the state’s usurpation of our rights.

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