California Currents

Podcast: Will the latest changes to controversial housing bill get Newsom on board?

Gov. Gavin Newsom presents the 2020-21 state budget at a press conference at the Capitol in Sacramento on Jan. 10. (Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters)

Sen. Scott Wiener is on his third try to force cities to allow more apartment buildings around public transit and in single family neighborhoods.

It’s been an arduous, uphill slog, with unexpected setbacks that have stalled previous versions of Senate Bill 50 relatively early in the legislative process. While Wiener has assembled an impressive coalition of supporters, so far he has yet to earn the explicit backing of the one figure with the most power to cajole, goad and bully lawmakers into backing the controversial measure — Gov. Gavin Newsom.

“I don’t think we have to have the governor’s support, but it certainly would help,” Wiener, Democrat from San Francisco, told Gimme Shelter: The California Housing Crisis Podcast.

Newsom has kept a polite distance from Wiener’s proposal, which suburban homeowners, local governments and anti-gentrification activists have blocked in each of the past two years. The governor has applauded the spirit of the legislation and expressed disappointment in its previous failures, but has yet to say he’s behind it.

When asked at his budget unveiling earlier today whether he supports the new amendments, Newsom said: “We need to get something done, and we’re working aggressively to do that. We are working with the author and leadership and members that are maybe on the fence.”

On this episode of Gimme Shelter: The California Housing Crisis Podcast, CalMatters’ Matt Levin and the Los Angeles Times’ Liam Dillon interview Sen. Wiener on how SB 50 has changed over the past three years, and whether sweeping new amendments to the bill will actually work.

CalMatters.org is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media venture explaining California policies and politics.