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A Gentler, Still Controversial Housing Bill is Back—This Time with a Powerful New Ally

Last year, one piece of housing legislation overshadowed all others. Senate Bill 827 by state Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) would have allowed developers to build four- to eight-story apartment buildings next to public transit stops around the state.

The goals were laudable: Ease regulations on the construction of desperately needed new housing (the state acknowledges it is short 3.5 million units), and reduce commuters’ greenhouse gas emissions by placing more homes near greener transportation such as subways, light rail and bus stops.

The method was radical: Take away some of the zoning power of cities, which traditionally decide what types of homes can be built where and don’t typically encourage apartment buildings to be built right next door to single-family homes.

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