Richard Eber, California Political News and Views
Meet State Senator Scott Weiner (D) San Francisco who is arguably one of the most powerful legislators in Sacramento. An immigrant to the Bay Area following an outstanding academic record on the East Coast including graduating from Duke and Harvard Law School, Weiner became a Senator in 2016 following his serving as a District Supervisor in the City by the Bay.
Among his legislative achievements:
- Co-authored SB-27 to require tax returns for Presidential candidates running in California. This was quickly thrown out by the courts as a typical unconstitutional “Left Coast” ploy.
- Proposed SB-378 which would have imposed a 40% tax for estates above $3.5 million per person. This measure failed to get out of committee but think how many wealthy people would have left the Golden State, (not mention job losses), were this enacted.
- Authored SB-127 to increase tax revenues to be directed for bike lanes and pedestrian improvements. Governor Newsom vetoed this measure as it would reduce the amount of matching Federal dollars for road improvements.
- Introduced SB-378 during wild fire crisis which would have had the State of California takeover the operations of PG&E to in effect nationalize the distribution of power in California
But wait there’s more of Weiner’s unaccomplishments to consider. He sponsored a net neutrality bill that was signed by Governor Newsom which contradicts Federal law. Its implementation is currently being held up in the courts. And let us not forget his failed attempt to push for the extension of alcohol sales in selected bars and restaurants until 4am.
One would guess the public would need to be intoxicated to support San Francisco’s leftist ringleader.
All of the above are child’s play compare to what he has done in the housing field. Policies that Weiner believes are “Progressive”, many of us refer to as Dystopian. This started in 2017 when he sponsored SB-35 which requires cities that fall behind State mandates have the State come in and streamline the permit process. This is one of several measures the State Senator from San Francisco has backed that takes away local control in the urban planning process.
The following year he authored SB-827 which would have allowed for Apartment buildings of between 4 and 8 stories to be constructed within a half mile of major transit stops. The construction of new housing could be done avoiding much scrutiny from local planning agencies. Fortunately, because of protests from grass roots organizations including Liveable California, SB-827 never made it to the Senate floor.
This has not discouraged Scott Weiner from imposing his San Francisco inspired “Five Year Plan” perspective on the rest of California. His newest remake of SB-827 is SB-50 which is currently under review by the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Among other things it wipes out all single family zoning within a half mile radius of any public transit stop allowing developers circumvent local planning to build high rise dwellings of between 45 to 85 feet. Such a move is thought to be the first step to eliminate construction single family homes in larger urban areas throughout the state.
It matters not if these buildings are in residential neighborhoods or what effect new construction might have on home prices of existing homes in the area. Of more importance to SB-50 backers is that density discounts for affordable housing would allow even more units to be built. Even worse these new buildings would be exempt from parking requirements imposed by local communities creating untold congestion for locals and small business owners.
Cities can’t stop one of these buildings from being constructed unless they can prove public safety is at issue. This threat of court action makes it difficult to oppose developers of these mega projects. Up zoning by cities will be required by SB-50 in residential areas so that court challenges would likely be next to impossible.
In expanding the number of units that can be built developers can ignore setback requirements, vegetation, on site open space, floor area ratio, and a host of other considerations. Critics contend that such building plans are especially tough on young families where kids need room to play.
Another corollary of SB-50 is allowing public transportation entities to place so called high frequency stops anywhere they please in order to upend local zoning restrictions. In addition many transit agencies are using the housing shortage to get into the development business. Included in this move are The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority and BART in the Bay Area. These organizations with long standing reputations for incompetence and lack of cost control think they can construct affordable housing within a mile of their stations.
Guess again! This is like turning 9-1-1 response services over to the DMV!
In reality these public transit monoliths desire to lease their lands to developers and use the revenue to balance the pension and bond debt they have recklessly built up over the years. With support of bills like AB-2923 BART and other transit groups can build just about anything they want without strong scrutiny from local governments. If one loves the planning policies of Houston where anything goes, SB-50 is a match made in heaven.
It can also be asked if public transportation concerns have a mandate or authority to get into the housing business? Were their directors ever elected for such a purpose? Isn’t there someone else who can do a better job than these stumbling bureaucratic agencies?
Scott Weiner doesn’t care. He goes about his Progressive agenda with little opposition within the one party system currently running the government in Sacramento. Sb-50 is merely another one his socialistic visions. Being a brilliant ideologue allows Weiner to run roughshod over other Democrats in the legislature. This will likely increase as he gains more seniority in the near future
When will this all end? Probably not in the next 8 years that Weiner has left until term limits will end his tenure in the State Senate. However, there is a strong possibility that he will be running for Nancy Pelosi’s seat in the House of Representatives once the Speaker retires in the next couple years. In such a case Weiner’s opponents might be happier with him residing in Washington D.C. where it is thought he can do less harm there than in California.
Richard Eber studied journalism at the University of Oregon. He writes about politics, culture, education restaurants, and was former city and sports editor of UCSB Daily. Richard is president of Amerasa Rapid Transit, a specialized freight forwarder.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Citizens Journal
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Welcome to section 8 housing, State-wide. Of course with the exception of politicians gated communities.
Or we can light incense and pray that he chokes on his next cup of organic, non-fat, prevailing wage, from free-range, non-antibiotic goats yoghurt.