California Tenant and Housing Justice Groups Oppose Bill to Lift Zoning Restrictions
"We have to stop putting tenants at risk and stop worsening speculation in the housing market."
SAN FRANCISCO -- A statewide coalition of California housing justice and tenants' rights groups have sent a letter to State Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) and the California Legislature opposing his land-use deregulation bill, SB 50.
Those organizations include the Housing Rights Committee of San Francisco, San Francisco Tenants Union, the Coalition on Homelessness, San Diego Tenants Union, Tenant Sanctuary of Santa Cruz, the Sacramento Tenants Union, Tenants Together, Los Angeles-based Housing Is A Human Right, and many others.
On behalf of the Housing Rights Committee of San Francisco and the below signed organizations," the letter states, "we are writing to firmly oppose SB 50 (Wiener). SB 50, even in its third iteration, signals more rent hikes, gentrification and displacement in marginalized communities and beyond."
The letter comes in the wake of growing opposition to the latest version of Senator Wiener's bill. The Moms 4 Housing and their supporters interrupted Wiener's press conference with Mayor Libby Schaff earlier this month in Oakland, stating the bill did not include enough affordable housing at a time when there are four unhoused residents for every vacant unit in Oakland.
Meanwhile, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and L.A. City Council voted to oppose SB 50, as did the Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board, who just voted against it this past Monday.
Wiener has dubiously claimed that SB 50 has some of the strongest tenant protections in the state and that he's been "working with housing equity advocates to ensure the bill supports low income communities and communities of color." The organizations, which have been working on the front lines of the housing affordability and homeless crises for years, strongly disagree.
We have asked for much more land and housing [to be set aside] for low-income people, but they haven't heard us," said Mirtha Estrada, a low-income senior SOMA district tenant, community leader, and member of PODER, SF.
"This is a real estate bill that rewards developers while ignoring our community's concerns and those of our most vulnerable residents," said Zerita Jones, a founding member of the Baldwin-Leimert-Crenshaw (BLC) Local of the Los Angeles Tenants Union. "We have to stop putting tenants at risk and stop worsening speculation in the housing market."
"These amendments do nothing to prevent landlords from harassing tenants out of their homes to capitalize on inflated rents accompanying luxury developments, which SB 50 would fast track," the letter states.
The organizations added, "It is unfortunate that, for the third time, Senator Wiener has failed to meet with tenant rights groups in his district or beyond who understand the pressures that low income communities are facing and the types of housing and protections they need."
The community activists offer alternative solutions for addressing California's devastating housing affordability crisis: "If the state wishes to address the housing emergency, we request that they re-invest in social/public housing and let cities expand renter protections by eliminating the Ellis Act and Costa-Hawkins."