Why this South Bay city with a good housing record will oppose new California transit-oriented housing bill
Milpitas enjoys a reputation among Santa Clara County cities as having made more progress toward meeting the housing needs of its residents than any other.
But on Tuesday night, its City Council unanimously voted to send a letter to the California Legislature opposing Senate Bill 827, which has been touted by Silicon Valley business leaders as one potentially big fix for the region’s housing crisis. The bill could generate thousands more housing units near transit hubs such as Milpitas’ BART station, which is scheduled to open later this year.
The letter follows a model suggested by the California League fo Cities and Milpitas’ objections t the bill may be predictive of the way other cities will act.
“SB 827 really takes away our ability to do any kind of zoning when it comes close to transit,” said City Councilmember Bob Nuñez, who introduced the resolution. “Now with BART here, if we’re not careful, we will lose any ability to do any kind of zoning there and it will be done for us.”
Take authority away from local officials in dealing with the hot topic of denser, taller housing near transit is an acknowledged goal of the bill, introduced last month by State Sen. Scott Wiener, a Democrat from San Francisco.
“I support and value local control,” Wiener said after introducing SB 827 as part of a package of state housing bills, but said there had to be “more of a balance” between state and city development laws.
For the bill’s proponents, it solves the problem of individual cities exempting themselves form solutions to a regional and statewide housing crisis that their residents oppose.