Local update: Growing momentum for SB-50

We’re excited to see all the positive energy behind CA State Senator Scott Wiener’s housing bill, SB-50, as we begin 2020.  For those not up to date on the latest with the bill, it’s designed to open up additional possibilities for housing near transit, and in communities that are rich in jobs but light on housing. Here are some of the most recent endorsements:

We’re glad that local governments are taking the time to formally voice their support for the bill.  We know it’s popular with local constituents; residents in Redwood City, San Mateo, and San Carlos supported SB-50 by a 9-point margin in a survey recently conducted by local civic engagement advocate Voca (source).  

In Milpitas, City Council voted 4-0 (Mayor Rich Tran abstained) to endorse the bill.  As first reported by the Milpitas Beat:

“Milpitas is not a city that sits back and watches,” said Vice Mayor Bob Nunez, as he urged his fellow councilors to support SB50. “We help shape the future of this county. And to do that we have to remember to step up at the beginning.”

Albany’s City Council also participated in a presentation on SB-50 and the housing crisis, and voted 4-1 to endorse the bill in a forthcoming letter.

San Mateo City Council discussed their prior opposition to the bill, and voiced that they didn’t want to be “a poster child for NIMBYism” in the area.  After a 3-2 vote, they agreed to withdraw their former opposition to the bill.

We encourage more local governments in San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties to join their peers and formally support the bill in response to the wishes of their constituents.  The housing crisis impacts quality of life for us all, and we’re glad local governments are supporting SB-50 as one of many tools in the toolkit to begin to fix it.

Don’t forget to voice your support for SB-50 by contacting your local representatives via California YIMBY’s easy tool! Every voice matters.

Monday, January 27th: Come champion housing at Redwood City’s City Council meeting

Monday, January 27th: Come champion housing at Redwood City’s City Council meeting

On Monday January 27th at 7pm, Redwood City’s City Council will discuss the city’s Central Redwood City plan, focusing on Sequoia Station and the creation of a new Transit District:

Source: Redwood City Staff Report

Meeting details:

Where: Council Chambers: 1017 Middlefield Road Redwood City, CA 94063

When: Monday, January 27th at 7pm

What: Agenda item 9.A: Discuss next steps for a City-led Central Redwood City Plan including the Transit District, Sequoia Station General Plan Initiation, Community Visioning and Gatekeeper Process


We’re excited about Redwood City’s focus in this area of town.  Downtown Redwood City’s redevelopment in the 2010s brought many great jobs, revitalized shopping/entertainment options, and some new housing to the area, all in an area well-served by the Sequoia Station transit center. 

The existing Sequoia Station development is one story with a large surface parking lot for the Station’s businesses.  We’re glad the city is looking at smarter ways to make use of this space as a dense, walkable place with a mix of uses that serves the residents, commuters, and workers in the area.  

We think this is a great location to create additional homes to help balance the recent job creation in town.  The Station is easily walkable to transit connections, local jobs, and shops and services, which will make it very easy for future residents to go car-free.

At Monday’s meeting, City Council will discuss the proposed community visioning process for this area.  Please join us in supporting:

  • A well-rounded outreach/community vision process that takes on board feedback from all members of the community: young and old, homeowners and renters, and those who work in the community but can’t afford to live there
  • Making the most of this mixed-use development by creating much-needed homes for local workers. 
  • A balanced mix of homes and jobs in the broader downtown area, not just the Sequoia station site.  Given the near-500,000 sqft of office space created in downtown since 2010, this is a perfect opportunity to balance it with additional housing for workers at all income levels.  

The average home sale price in Redwood City is $1,480,000 as of this post’s publication date, which places stable housing out of reach for all but the most highly-paid workers.

The importance of the station

We’re glad that as we look to the next decade, the transit center itself is a next area of focus — especially as Caltrain electrification is coming and will enable much more frequent service and higher ridership. Major changes to the station infrastructure – making it a passing area for express trains to pass locals, and separating the tracks from the downtown streets – could unlock major increases in transit ridership on the entire Caltrain corridor, connect to rail service across the Bay on the Dumbarton corridor, and improve safe downtown connections for people walking, bicycling, taking transit, and driving.  

At the meeting, Council is expected to authorize city staff to develop a memorandum of understanding with the partner transit agencies to plan for the complex and important station infrastructure improvements. 

Especially if you can’t make it on Monday in person, please engage with your local elected officials and Councilmembers to reinforce the importance of including additional housing as this area is redeveloped. You can email the council at: council@redwoodcity.org

Additionally, in an upcoming meeting on February 24th, City Council is expected to start a General Plan update process.   Stay posted for more opportunities to make your voice heard.

Sunday June 16: Peninsula Democratic Coalition meeting in Palo Alto

As we all know, 2020 is a huge election year for Democratic candidates. There are many hopeful candidates at this stage in the game, and housing is one of the crucial issues they face.

This coming Sunday, the Peninsula Democratic Coalition is hosting an event focused exclusively on housing policy, aiming to discuss how we can advocate for housing as a unified group of voters. We’ll also learn more about where each of the Presidential candidates stand on housing policy. Please join us:

When: Sunday, June 16th, 1-3pm

Where: Mitchell Park Community Center at 3700 Middlefield Rd, Palo Alto, CA 94303

What: Local leaders Don Weden (the retired Principal Planner from Santa Clara County), Leora Tanjuatco Ross (PDC President), Nicole Fernandez (San Mateo County Democratic Party Chair), and Adrian Fine (Palo Alto Council Member) will lead a discussion about local housing, plans, and how Democrats can present a unified front on issues like rent control and increased housing production.

Sign up here!

p.s. Can’t make the event? You can still contribute to the Peninsula Democratic Coalition’s efforts via the above link.

Saturday June 15: Join Sunnyvale Dem Club in preparing questions for state & county candidates about housing, transport, environment

Please join the Sunnyvale Dems this coming Saturday, June 15th to learn and help prepare questions for candidates, on critical topics including housing, transportation, and climate change.

We’ll learn more about the issues from knowledgeable speakers, and break out into groups to craft questions to find out where candidates stand in the races for State Senate and County Supervisor. You don’t need to be a Sunnyvale resident to attend and participate.

When: Saturday June 15th — 2 to 4 pm
Where: Fairbrae Swim Club: 696 Sheraton Drive, Sunnyvale CA
Cost: Free!

Can’t make it to the event? Follow the Sunnyvale Democratic Club online, and become a member here.

June 7: State Sen. Scott Wiener talks #MoreHomes in Palo Alto

June 7: State Sen. Scott Wiener talks #MoreHomes in Palo Alto

On June 7, Palo Alto Forward, Peninsula for Everyone, and several other community groups co-hosted a community event with State Senator Scott Wiener to discuss solutions to the housing crisis including the high-profile bill SB-50. We had a full house of a couple hundred people.

Image may contain: 4 people, people sitting and crowd

SB-50 allows for more homes near transit and multi-family housing in jobs-rich neighborhoods to address a shortage of more than 3 million homes across the state.

We’re excited about the bill and its potential to legalize more housing. Sen. Wiener spoke with us about the details of the plan, and we’ve recapped a couple of the audience’s questions below — condensing/paraphrasing answers where needed.

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Sen. Wiener taking questions from the crowd

Question: What’s the right mix of state vs local control?

Sen. Wiener: We should strive for a balance between state and local rules. For instance, we don’t allow school boards to set school years of 30 days a year, or decide to skip teaching math and science. We as a state agree that there should be baseline standards, and allow local communities to have control within those boundaries. As a former local elected official, trust me — no one supports local control more than me. But admittedly, on housing, it hasn’t been working.

Question: How does the imbalance of jobs to housing play into this?

Sen. Wiener: We often hear things like “tech caused the problem, tech needs to solve it.” Respectfully, I think we all caused the problem. Tech didn’t set the land use rules, tech didn’t ban apartments in 75% of California, didn’t create 10-yr approval processes — we as a community did. Some people suggest that tech should build the housing themselves. Even if you agree with the notion that company towns are a good thing and a company should be both landlord and boss – why should we make it easier for them to build housing than other developers? We can let existing developers play their role. And relatedly, I also support tech companies paying their fair share of taxes. Too many successful companies right now are at a 0% Federal tax rate — we all need to do our part to contribute to infrastructure.

Additionally, Sen. Wiener listed some key facts related to housing:

We’re excited to work together with our communities to continue the dialogue about housing solutions.

Want to get involved?

P.S. Missed the event? See the conversation in full below: