A major California housing bill failed after opposition from the low-income residents it aimed to help. Here’s how it went wrong

When Chinese, Filipina and black tenant activists spoke to fears that expanding housing this way will displace residents of their communities, supporters of the measure drowned out their voices with chants of “Read the bill.”

…The scene of predominantly white protesters shouting over people of color fed a criticism that has dogged backers of recent legislative efforts to boost home building.

…Activists for low-income residents and communities of color said that they were blindsided by state Sen. Scott Wiener’s proposal and that subsequent efforts by the senator to protect against potential displacement and gentrification were inadequate. Wiener (D-San Francisco) and his allies have acknowledged they need to build better relationships with advocates for poor Californians and vowed to introduce a new bill in 2019. But for now, there is a fundamental disconnect between the approach of the senator and his supporters on one side and influential anti-poverty organizations on the other.

…Some of the most passionate debates were over SB 827’s effects on those in poverty, many of whom can’t afford steep increases in housing costs. Wiener contends that by allowing for much more housing overall — alongside providing protections for existing residents — SB 827 would have helped keep people in their neighborhoods.

…Neighborhood activists in historically black and Latino South Los Angeles spent a decade devising blueprints to guide future growth that the Los Angeles City Council approved at the end of last year. Many of the same organizations supported a successful 2016 citywide ballot measure that allows developers to increase density and raise height limits near certain transit stops — but only if they agree to set aside portions of their projects for low-income residents.

SB 827, which in an early iteration would have in effect rezoned broad swaths of Los Angeles, alarmed activists, said Laura Raymond, campaign director for Alliance for Community Transit-Los Angeles. Raymond said her members believed the bill would have undermined their prior work and forced those they represent out of their homes.

…One of California YIMBY’s first shows of support for SB 827 was a letter from more than 120 tech company executives, who are some of its biggest funders and often serve as lightning rods in the state’s gentrification debates.

A major California housing bill failed after opposition from the low-income residents it aimed to help. Here’s how it went wrong

Sigh….

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