My urbanist Twitter is alight with CA SB827 instead of Donald Trump, and it’s very good news

You can read the bill’s sponsor, Scott Weiner, discussing it here on Medium, along with how it fits into the other pending or passed California State Housing Bills. California YIMBY is the bill’s sponsor. Here’s a blurb to get you going:

SB 827 creates density and height zoning minimums near transit. Under SB 827, parcels within a half-mile of high-connectivity transit hub — like BART, Muni, Caltrain, and LA Metro stations — will be required to have no density maximums (such as single family home mandates), no parking minimums, and a minimum height limit of between 45 and 85 feet, depending on various factors, such as whether the parcel is on a larger corridor and whether it is immediately adjacent to the station. A local ordinance can increase that height but not go below it. SB 827 allows for many more smaller apartment buildings, described as the “missing middle” between high-rise steel construction and single family homes.

Here’s my favorite bit:

California Needs a Housing First Agenda My 2018 Housing Package

Parking minimums are terrible, and it’s long past time we got rid of them. They raise the cost of new construction, they hamstring adaptive re-use, and they force developers to put money into what is likely to be unproductive land. Let developers figure out what they want to offer and forget about it, and if there is a parking externality, deal with it later using a parking district.

This is a revolutionary bill. CA YIMBY groups are going to work themselves to death trying to get this passed. I hope it works.

The only part about this I don’t get … why the wonky insert language here:

a minimum height limit of between 45 and 85 feet, depending on various factors, such as whether the parcel is on a larger corridor and whether it is immediately adjacent to the station. A local ordinance can increase that height but not go below it.

Great that locals can’t downzone on this thing, but why not just throw the lid off zoning entirely, require housing, require some public housing set asides, and let the land markets do what they are going to do to signal to developers?

I don’t know that it matters all that much, but there are likely some instances where developers just aren’t going to want to go all that high, but where they would develop more intensively than they can now, but not quite mid-rise levels yet.

This isn’t a particularly important point, but I am curious. I’m sure there is an answer.

3 thoughts on “My urbanist Twitter is alight with CA SB827 instead of Donald Trump, and it’s very good news

  1. Would you not interpret it as “you can’t have a rule specifying a maximum height of less than 45 feet”, not “you cannot build anything shorter than 45 feet”?

  2. I think the intent of the “minimum height limit” language is to set a minimum on the height limit for the zone, not a height minimum for the zone. The language in that blog post is confusing, but I don’t think the legislation requires developers to build towers where there’s no demand for them. Presumably a city could zone for higher minimum heights if they did want to force developers to build bigger, but my reading of the bill is that it’s not doing that (see (4) (A) in https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=201720180SB827).

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