Downey voices opposition to SB 50

Protesters at the April 16 L.A. City Council meeting. Photo courtesy Housing is a Human Right

Protesters at the April 16 L.A. City Council meeting. Photo courtesy Housing is a Human Right

DOWNEY — The city of Downey has formally opposed legislation that, if approved, would allow high-density housing developments near eligible bus stops and train stations across the state, overriding local zoning codes.

SB 50, introduced by state Sen. Scott Wiener of San Francisco, would allow developers to build condo and apartment complexes up to five stories tall near “high-quality” bus stops and transit lines, even in areas zoned strictly for single-family homes.

Introduced by Wiener as an answer to California’s housing and homeless crisis, the legislation could substantially alter Downey’s skyline, with housing developments along the city’s major thoroughfares.

The legislation also relaxes parking requirements or eliminates them entirely, depending on the complex’s proximity to mass transit.

“We must take bold steps now to address our severe housing crisis and reduce our carbon footprint,” Wiener said in a statement. “For too long we have created sprawl by artificially limiting the number of homes that are built near transit and job centers.”

Metro’s 115 bus line, which runs east-west on Firestone Boulevard from the Norwalk Green Line Station to Playa del Rey. Photo by Pam Lane/DowneyDailyPhotos.com

Metro’s 115 bus line, which runs east-west on Firestone Boulevard from the Norwalk Green Line Station to Playa del Rey. Photo by Pam Lane/DowneyDailyPhotos.com

An impartial study by UC Berkeley found that most of Greater Los Angeles would be impacted by SB 50.

In Downey, the university estimated that SB 50 could potentially result in housing developments on Firestone Boulevard, between Lakewood Boulevard and west into South Gate, and across most of Imperial Highway. Southern portions of Lakewood Boulevard near the Green Line Station also could be impacted.

In a letter to Wiener, Downey Mayor Rick Rodriguez said SB 50 undermines the city’s zoning codes while allowing for little to no public input.

“We agree there is a fundamental problem of not enough homes being built in California, and appreciate your commitment in addressing this serious issue,” Rodriguez wrote. “However, we believe there are other ways to spur much needed housing construction statewide without upending longstanding community driven planning processes and stakeholder involvement.”

“The City of Downey is fortunate to be served by multiple agencies’ transit lines and by a Metro light rail,” Rodriguez added. “This proposed legislation could have dramatic impacts to neighborhoods, and would do so without public input, which is a fundamental right.”

Also opposing the bill is the Los Angeles City Council, which said SB 50 would simply create additional market rate housing, doing little to alleviate rising housing costs.

“There are so many reasons to oppose SB 50 that it’s almost difficult to know where to start,” said Councilman Paul Koretz.

Representatives for state Sen. Bob Archuleta and Assemblymember Cristina Garcia did not respond to requests for comment.

NewsEric Pierce