NORWALK – A controversial proposal that would allow high-density housing developments near eligible bus stops and train stations across the state, overriding local zoning codes, is under consideration by state legislators.
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 Norwalk’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.”
An impartial study by UC Berkeley found that most of Greater Los Angeles would be impacted by SB 50.
In Norwalk, the university estimated that SB 50 could potentially result in housing developments on Imperial Highway, between Studebaker Road and west into Downey, and on Firestone Boulevard at Studebaker.
Those areas are serviced by major MTA transit lines.
Also affected could be Imperial Highway and Bloomfield Avenue, adjacent to the Norwalk/Santa Fe Springs Transportation Center.
The city of Norwalk did not respond to a request for comment.
Downey mayor Rick Rodriguez opposes the legislation, arguing it undermines cities’ zoning codes while allowing for little to no public input.
Downey could be significantly impacted by SB 50, with the potential for high-density housing on Firestone Boulevard, Lakewood Boulevard and Imperial Highway.
“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 in a letter to Wiener. “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.
Assembly Majority Leader Ian Calderon was in meetings Wednesday and not available to comment.