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By Miriam Raftery

April 18, 2018 (Sacramento) – Senate Bill 827, a controversial bill that would have forced cities in California to allow high-rise housing up to 55 feet tall near major transit stops, died in the State Senate’s Transportation and Housing Committee.

The bill authored by Senator Scott Wiener of San Francisco received only four votes in favor.  

The measure had backing from affordable housing advocates and urban planners at a national level. But it was opposed by many cities and residents concerned about changing community character.

In La Mesa, residents on the Next Door forum voiced concerns about the impact on La Mesa’s historic downtown village if five-story high-rises were allowed to tower above quaint century-old architecture. 

The proposed Park Station high-rise project was withdrawn a couple of years ago, after the developed faced stiff opposition from the community to a proposed waiver of height requirements.  The bill defeated in Sacramento would have forced cities like La Mesa to approve such projects despite community concerns.

The goals of making housing affordable and transit accessible are commendable. The key issue for future proposed bills will be how to balance the need to reduce automobile pollution and provide affordable homes versus the desires of residents opposed to urbanization in small towns, suburban neighborhoods and historic districts.

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