By Melissa Caen

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) – Faced with a growing homeless population, and an escalating housing crisis, a proposal that would have sped up construction all over California has hit a massive speed bump.

SB 50 would require local governments to make it easier to build housing near jobs and transit. It is facing dedicated opposition, and on Thursday, the bill was held in the Senate Appropriations Committee for the rest of the year.

Despite getting shelved until 2020, State Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) says SB 50 will make it over the finish line, sooner or later.

“This bill is alive, we’re gonna get it passed,” he told KPIX.

Wiener says he’s trying to get the Appropriations Committee Chairman Anthony Portantino (D-Sacramento) to allow the bill to be voted on this year, and if that’s not possible, he’ll get the law passed next year.

“We’ve already seen big-city mayors, editorial boards, the governor expressing their disappointment about this decision,” he explained. “If we can’t change it now, we will move this bill in January.”

The bill has been controversial; it is opposed by local governments, neighborhood groups and some non-profits like Housing is a Human Right.

The non-profit’s director told the Senate Housing Committee, “We believe a one-size-fits-all approach that strips significant powers from our communities to determine planning and development is counterproductive” especially in low-income areas that could gentrify.

While the opposition to SB 50 is mobilized, Wiener points to two recent polls as evidence of the bills’ popularity.

Change Research released a statewide poll of registered voters on April 11, 2019, showing 61% in favor of SB 50, 24% opposed and 15% no opinion.

A more recent statewide poll by Lake Research Partners was released on May 16, 2019, showing 66% of likely voters are in favor of SB 50, with 18% opposed and 16% no opinion. (Note that pro-development California YIMBY paid for this poll.)

Wiener says he wants elected officials to hear those people who are in favor of SB 50.

“We just need to make sure that elected leaders are hearing – not just the no-growth, NIMBY oppose-everything people who run down to City Hall and yell – but just the regular people in our community who are struggling with housing and want their kids to have a housing future in our state.”

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