California’s state policies, unevenly distributed economic boom, and history of NIMBY activism have created an environment in which affordable housing is scarce. The state is home to one-fifth of the nation’s homeless people, and 54% percent of its renter households and 39% of its homeowners are “cost burdened”, or paying more than 30% of their monthly income for housing.

Over the past several years, California has not only produced too little housing, but too little of the right kind of housing. Between 2009 and 2014, the state added 77,000 more households than housing units. The housing it has produced is often located far from jobs and transit, or is too expensive for low and sometimes even middle income people to afford. “It’s a desperate situation right now,” said Dowell Myers, an urban planning professor at University of Southern California. “We really have to rethink everything.”

According to CityLab, a number of activists, leaders, and politicians are searching for solutions to the crisis, and weighing the pros and cons of each. The SB 827 bill, which is co-sponsored by California YIMBY, presents one such solution – it prevents jurisdictions from enacting exclusionary zoning that mandates parking, restricts density near mass transit, or imposes certain height limits.

Opponents of SB 827 say that despite the inevitable increase in housing supply, the bill would actually increase rents and home values in low-income, transit-adjacent neighborhoods by signaling that they are open for luxury development. In response to these concerns, [Sen. Scott] Wiener released a series of amendments to the bill, which include policies that protect residents of rent-controlled housing, and provide tenants of demolished buildings the opportunity to rent in the newly constructed buildings at the rate they previously paid.

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