State Sen. Scott Wiener coming to Palo Alto on Friday (June 7) — protests possible

State Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco. AP file photo.

Daily Post Staff Writer

Scott Wiener, the San Francisco state senator whose controversial bill SB50 would pre-empt local zoning and allow for more and denser housing near transit and jobs, will be visiting Palo Alto on Friday (June 7) to talk about the bill. The bill has been shelved until next year, but there is still considerable interest in the legislation from opponents and supporters.

And Wiener’s camp is prepared for protesters at the event that will be held at the Lucie Stern Community Center from 6 to 8 p.m.

Wiener has become accustomed to protesters at his events, and every once in a while there will be a heckler in the crowd, said Wiener spokesman Victor Ruiz-Cornejo.

Ruiz-Cornejo said there have been events where SB50 opponent Michael Weinstein, the head of Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation, has flown people up to San Francisco to protest Wiener and the bill.

Weinstein was behind the recent flyer that went out in San Francisco with quotes and pictures from the late African-American writer James Baldwin.

The flyer likened SB50 to comments Baldwin made about the displacement of African-Americans during the “urban renewal” of San Francisco’s Fillmore district in 1963.

SB50 is also facing strong opposition from local officials and residents.

The slow-growth group Palo Altans for Sensible Zoning has put out newsletters and has a blog post on its website breaking down SB50 for its members. Palo Altans for Sensible Zoning has backed council members Eric Filseth, Tom DuBois and Lydia Kou.

On the other side of the coin, the “pro-growth” group, Palo Alto Forward, is supporting SB50, and along with the groups Silicon Valley@Home, Housing Leadership Council and the TechEquity Collaborative, are hosting the event. Palo Alto Forward has backed Vice Mayor Adrian Fine in the past.

Both Menlo Park Mayor Ray Mueller and Palo Alto Mayor Eric Filseth have come out against SB50. Mueller gave his views in a guest opinion piece in the Post, while Filseth dedicated most of his March 5 State of the City address to the bill.

Mueller said SB50 would make cities, school districts and other agencies pay for the infrastructure needed to support the new housing, yet the state isn’t offering to fund this mandate.

“SB50 is a misguided precedent-setting centralization of power in the state that weakens the foundation of local representative government and devalues the voices of its electorate,” Mueller wrote.

Local control

Filseth says SB50 reduces local control of development.

Filseth said that when the state is in charge, the result is projects like the one that is turning the Cupertino Vallco Mall into a housing and office project. Cupertino had to allow that project to go through under SB35, an earlier bill authored by Wiener. He said it would add some 9,000 jobs in 2.4 million square feet of office space, but it will only have 2,400 homes.

He said that exacerbates the housing-jobs imbalance, which is responsible for driving up rents.

He pointed to Mountain View as an example of how local control can benefit residents. He said Mountain View’s North Bayshore plan calls for up to 3.5 million square feet of office space and up to 9,850 homes. (Google has since said it will only build 5,760 homes).

EPA leaders take a different view

However, not all local officials are against SB50. East Palo Alto’s council members have spoken in favor of the bill, though the council’s official position is to watch the bill and suggest amendments. Palo Alto Vice Mayor Adrian Fine also supports the bill.

EPA leaders contend that their city has had to bear the burden of the housing crisis while neighboring cities haven’t done their share.

“I’m supportive (of SB50) in saying that regionally places like East Palo Alto can’t continue to carry the brunt of continuing to house the people who don’t have a lot of means,” said East Palo Alto Councilman Ruben Abrica at an April 16 meeting.

East Palo Alto Councilman Larry Moody at a meeting on Monday (May 6) brought up the residents who had been pushed out of their homes and are now living in RVs on local streets.

“Those who are against SB50 typically have explored all the reasoning behind SB50, and how it’s going to impact them at their front door,” Moody said. “Are we willing to share our vast resources so that we can create a roof over someone who was once our neighbor’s head?”

The event will be on June 7 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Lucie Stern Community Center, 1305 Middlefield Road. The event is free, but people can register to attend at


  1. I live in East San Jose and hope this state mandated mess doesn’t come to our area or Palo Alto. The state is assuming too much control and they’re a supermajority that is already corrupt and out of touch.

  2. No housing crisis is worth sacrificing the last, true form of representative government we have left. SB50 destroys local control and robs us of our right to determine the course and future of cities and towns. This is a San Francisco fix for a San Francisco problem.

    Let’s give Weiner and vocal welcome and let him know that we oppose SB50.

  3. SB 50 is exactly what is needed after towns like Palo Alto and San Mateo’s disparate treatment of SFH owners over the renters and middle class who do the work in our cities and are forced out. They have had what since 1988 when RHNA counts started? Other cities like Foster City have met their obligations. If cities choose to skirt the law and treat non upper class people differently it is the duty of the state to intervene. Pass SB50 now!

    • 1. Throughout the 1990s, Palo Alto _exceeded_ its RHNA allocations and the result was that ABAG decided that if that much housing could be built, then the next allocation should be even larger. ABAG refused to understand that land was finite and Palo Alto was built out.
      2. What you regard as “upper class people” are those living in houses that were built 60-70 years ago as starter homes for veterans returning from WW2.

  4. I’m all for local control, but it is clearly not working in some cities that refuse to build housing. For those cities, the state needs to come in and give them a nudge.

    Maybe SB50 should be amended to give more local control to cities that are doing their job. But Palo Alto should get what they deserve for being the most exclusionary city despite preaching progressive principles.

  5. Hi I grew up here in Bay Area. My parents are still here. I have lived in LA for 24 yrs and the past 15 in DTLA (Downtown LA). I live 6 blocks from “skid row” a misnomer as it describes a 10 block square area that has been EXPONENTIALLY mushrooming across the city (not where the mayor lives or the hollywood Hills) DESPITE measure after measure of tax money in the BILLIONS (HHH) to create “housing” and provide more “services”. The lefty politics that govern this One Party State come up with the same INCORRECT analysis therefore ZERO result efforts. Parts of LA look like post apocalypse Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. Anarchy. This Bay Area has always been wealthier and lacking in mass quantities (compared to LA )in the Dependent Protected Class -otherwise known as Drug Addicts. Watch the incicive docu SEATTLE IS DYING to really see the disconnect between the “housing” parroting and the REALITY that the drug addicts, drop outs and handful of mentally ill (bio not drug eroded ) wouldn’t take the keys to a Mansion if you gave it to them. They want to be on the street admist the drug trade, prostitution and filth. THAT the lefties can’t grasp. Yes people CHOOSE to STAY in this lifestyle. In DTLA there are no sad miserable “homeless”. They get their 900-1200 CASH “SSI” money first of the month. They then spend the rest of the Month out of their minds on drigs and booze. They live in their fancy tents and elaborate sidewalk structures that violate EVERY LA municipal code but hey – LA doesn’t ENFORCE any codes Except parking for your car towing your car and taxing your ass. That would be “participatory citizens” probably you reading this as the drug addicts don’t do political debate. They get free hot meals in skid row services. So they don’t have to spend their SSI on annoying costs like rent and food. They get free bus passes. They get free medical care at good hospitals. One woman Theresa Lynn Powers has most likely cost the taxpayer well over a million dollars JUST for her care. At Cedars too. Not just county. Drug addicts and ppl who never worked in the first place NEVER take housing. MOST of the “housing” in LA comes with a string. You have to be in a PROGRAM. You have to be sober. You can’t bring your drug buddies to your free tax payer provided apt and shoot up. Bummer! So that is why they choose the anarchy of subsidized TENT life. GOOD TIMES! I have never spoken to nor observed ONE SINGLE human being in DTLA who is “unsheltered” who is TRYING TO GET OUT of their situation. Like the on obnoxious woman who has taken over Santa Cruz Avenue with her 10 toxic carts SHE is above
    The law and doesn’t care about “getting help” nor ca. The leftist values compel her to GET help. Her freedom is your eyesore. You are not in HER way. She is occupying YOUR visual and physical space violating all codes AND common courtesy and good citizenship that USED to be a societal norm. I guess for leftist CA that is “winning”.

  6. “the state needs to come in and give them a nudge”

    SB50 is no “nudge”; it’s a full-on shove into moving traffic. It is a catastrophic, one-size fits all approach that will do nothing to increase affordable housing. It will simply lead to more luxury housing for tech bros.

  7. Of course people are protesting this insanity being pushed down our throats!

    If you think we need more growth, go look at the commuter traffic trying to merge onto 280 at around 5:30. 2 solid lanes backed up from the 280N ramp past Deer Creek. Check how much longer it takes to get a PAMF appointment because they’re understaffed.

    Stop adding offices and tens of thousands of new workers and you won’t need all this new housing that we can’t absorb and people we can’t service!

    • Are you not seeing the problem with what you’re saying. Of course there’s a line of traffic…they have to drive to get to affordable housing. Of course PAMF is understaffed. The people that COULD work there can’t afford the commute and the lovely, selfish people in PA won’t build any affordable housing. And I’m not talking Palo Alto affordable. I’m talking reality based affordable. Your statement seems to lean more toward the “we need housing” side for all the reasons you mentioned. I think you are very confused.

      • Except workers in general today no longer work in one place for their entire lives. I’ve lived in one place, but commuted allover the South Bay and San Francisco. Your idea that people will live near where they work is quite outdated in today’s economy.

  8. Cities have had local controls for, whenever the zoning began, I think. If local control is the answer, why are we here talking about solutions to housing crisis?

  9. Cities have had local controls for, forever I think. If local control is the answer, why are we here talking about solutions to housing crisis?

  10. We need to curtail the demand side here. Too many developers are courting too many businesses, primarily exorbitantly paid tech workers. That is what is driving up housing prices and driving out service workers. Stop the development until housing for the middle class returns to affordable levels. I just did a quick trip to Roseville yesterday and lunch for two was $20 less than any comparable place in Palo Alto. It’s insane. Stop additional development now!

  11. The talk was sponsored by SB 50 supporters. Written questions were collected, but revealing questions did not get beyond the moderator. For example, SB 50 would empower developers to choose whether to build luxury condos or high-priced apartment complexes. Wiener did not mention condos. The housing Wiener seeks – and sought last year in his SB 827 – is for well-off high tech workers – not the homeless and downtrodden Wiener emphasized in his pitch. The high tech companies behind SB 827 are just hiding behind the scenes this year and various groups and local politicians have been recruited to support the new and improved SCAM.

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