Letters to the Editor: SB 50 would create a city of unaffordable housing in luxury high-rises

Apartment building in Koreatown
A new apartment building under construction towers over older homes in Koreatown on Dec. 11.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: I am gravely concerned for the future of Los Angeles if we are forced to implement Senate Bill 50, a one-size-fits-all response to California’s affordable housing shortage that would allow high-density housing in any neighborhood close to transit. It has the potential to decimate every single-family neighborhood in Los Angeles while also worsening our affordable housing shortage.

The city councils of both Los Angeles and San Francisco opposed past versions of this bill for many reasons. There is ample evidence it would incentivize the construction of market-rate housing and create millions of luxury units while requiring few affordable units.

Furthermore, the kind of changes that SB 50 encourages would attract high-income people who don’t necessarily use public transportation into newer luxury buildings adjacent to transit, bringing in more cars while providing insufficient parking. It’s marketed as a solution to climate change, while in many ways it makes things worse.

Also, SB 50 doesn’t address the issue that is at the heart of our housing crisis, which is the negative effect of the state’s 1995 Costa Hawkins law which makes rent-controlled units unaffordable. It does nothing about owners sitting on vacant units. Wall Street-backed landlords have thousands of newly built units they are leaving vacant to bring up land value, intentionally contributing to the housing shortage.

Local officials all over California stand ready to work with Sacramento to fashion common-sense mechanisms for increasing the inventory of truly affordable housing. But enacting SB 50, which would decimate single-family neighborhoods and allow luxury housing to proliferate, is something we’d all regret for decades to come.


Paul Koretz, Los Angeles

The writer is a member of the L.A. City Council.


To the editor: SB 50 terrifies communities because it removes local control on what gets built and where. Under SB 50, developers can build multistory apartments in single-family neighborhoods with no setbacks or open space, diminishing our tree canopy.

Californians are rightly concerned about housing affordability, but SB 50 uses the unproven trickle-down theory that building more improves affordability. If that were true, Manhattan would have been affordable decades ago. Many experts refute this theory and expect housing to become less affordable.

Let’s have thoughtful legislation that mandates affordable housing in all developments, mandates using underutilized government-owned property for affordable housing, and guides higher density to transit corridors and not to single-family neighborhoods.

Maria Pavlou Kalban, Sherman Oaks

The writer chairs the Sherman Oaks Homeowners Assn.'s SB 50 Committee.