State Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) introduced his first bill this week, focusing on housing affordability and accountability.
Wiener, a gay man, was sworn in Monday, December 5 as San Francisco’s state senator, representing the city and part of northern San Mateo County.
Senate Bill 35 would streamline the production of affordable housing and spur the construction of housing throughout the state. It would also remove local barriers to creating affordable housing, as well as barriers in jurisdictions failing to build housing needed to meet Regional Housing Needs Allocation, or RHNA, goals, according to a news release.
In the release, Wiener said he’d be working with affordable housing organizations, housing advocates, building trade groups, environmental advocates, and others to formulate the bill in the coming months.
“California residents are suffering from high costs of housing, and we need to do more to build homes at all affordability levels,” Wiener stated. “We need to make it easier to deliver the critical affordable housing projects our low-income residents need, and we need to ensure that every city across our state is taking its role seriously in addressing the housing crisis.”
He added that his bill will also ensure that “we are creating jobs that pay a living wage as we build this housing.”
The RHNA is the state-mandated process that sets the number of housing units that must be included, at all affordability levels, in each local jurisdiction’s housing element. Wiener said he intends to set a timeframe by which jurisdictions must meet RHNA requirements, and if after that timeframe, the needs aren’t met, then barriers to housing production would be lifted by the state.
According to Wiener, this would preserve local control options for building housing, provided that jurisdictions work to meet their RHNA goals.
SB 35 also includes a provision requiring prevailing wages be paid to workers building these projects.