On this episode of “Gimme Shelter: The California Housing Crisis Podcast,” CalMatters’ Manuela Tobias and the Los Angeles Times’ Liam Dillon sit down with Peter Calthorpe, a San Francisco-based architect, urban designer and urban planner to discuss a new bill that could allow a lot more housing along California’s commercial strips.
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California may soon allow a ton more housing where we now see strip malls, offices and parking lots — pending Gov. Gavin Newsom’s pen stroke.
AB 2011, which is authored by Assemblymember Buffy Wicks, a Democrat from Oakland, passed the state Legislature last week. The bill attempts to fast-track housing development along commercial strips by skipping the California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA, that developers say often kill or stymie, and make more expensive housing projects.
Like a series of similar bills to build housing on commercial real estate before, Wicks’ bill faced vehement opposition from the powerful state Building and Construction Trades Council — until the Legislature struck a deal that let it pass. As part of the deal, the California Legislature also passed SB 6, by Sen. Anna Caballero of Salinas, which will also rezone commercial real estate to allow for housing but leave in place CEQA.
To pass a housing bill without support from the union — and for two very similar bills to survive in tandem —- is quite the feat in California’s legislature. In the latest episode of Gimme Shelter, CalMatters’ Manuela Tobias and the Los Angeles Times’ Liam Dillon explain how it happened. And to paint a picture of how the legislation could reshape California’s housing landscape, they sat down with Peter Calthorpe, a San Francisco-based architect, urban designer and urban planner who helped plant the seed for AB 2011.