SB 827 serves developers, not the homeless community

letter to the editor
Willow Yang/File

SB 827 is a state measure that would remove restrictions on the number of units allowed to be built within a half-mile of a BART station and within a quarter-mile of major bus routes. It does not benefit the homeless.

Rather, it is based on the trickle-down theory that has been disproven in economics and in housing markets. SB 827 perpetuates the myth that building more housing brings down the rental rates and makes way for lower-income residents— a narrative that residential development in San Francisco has disproven in the past 10 years.

Those of us truly concerned about climate change and justice for workers want Berkeley families, students and workers to be able to live where they work or go to school so they don’t have to commute to Berkeley. Unless housing is limited to low- and moderate-income tenants, which is not part of SB 827, adding more housing near BART and virtually all transit routes does not serve our urgent need for low-income housing. Instead, it turns Berkeley into a bedroom community of apartments and condos for those rich enough to afford market-rate rents. Even in theory, transit-oriented housing arguably forces people to spend most of their waking hours not where they live but where they take transit to work. It’s more cost- and energy-efficient, and much less stressful, to live and work in the same place.

Instead of upzoning — increasing allowable building heights and density — and overriding local planning, we need a moratorium on for-profit development. We need to renew our commitment and funding for nonprofit, inclusionary residential buildings that provide housing for families and low-income residents in Berkeley, not for the wealthy and commuters who work in Silicon Valley.

Charlene M. Woodcock is a retired UC Press editor and Berkeley resident of 50 years.

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  • davantage

    You’re so goofy. Without Silicon Valley, Berkeley and Oakland will look like Detroit.
    Your message to Berkeley Grads is, please don’t stay after you graduate because you’re too good for us. If you must stay, we only have government sponsored institutional housing.

    • lspanker

      The 60-something and 70-something ex-hippies in arrested development in Berkeley are something else. They despise the techies that pay taxes and spend money on the local economy, but have a soft spot for all the drug-addled and crazed indigents pushing shopping carts and squatting/urinating/defecating in the streets and parks, and think Berkeley should encourage more of them to emigrate there. Then, when the city is broke because the mooches outnumber the working taxpayers, they blame Republicans for their problems…

  • Son Of Man

    As a liberal Democrat, I must say what a crock of baloney. I can’t believe people honestly think that not building is the answer to a shortage. Your article is actually offensive and I hope you never run for state office because you lost my vote for sure. The maddening ignorance of this article is really beyond me, please quit while you can.

  • lspanker

    As usual, the economically illiterate “student journalists” miss the point. Housing prices are determined by supply and demand, and no developer in their right mind is going to build units where there is no economic return. Building market-rate housing will increase supply and eventually take the upward price pressure off of older housing stock. As for the so-called “homeless”, stop catering to them! The vast majority of them aren’t formerly working. housed residents who are now down on their luck – they are substance abusers and mentally ill from other locales who were attracted to Berkeley NOT because of available jobs, cheap housing, social services to help get them back on their feet, or a clean and sober environment. They are attracted to Berkeley because grossly misguided policies implemented by goo-goo progressive liberals have created a bum-friendly environment where these crazed and stoned derelicts can camp out anywhere, illicit drugs are readily available for their consumption, there are plenty of naive and gullible students to scam with their sob stories, and the cop’s hands are tied by lefty anti-cop militants. Make Berkeley a less welcoming spot for the homeless so they aren’t competing with honest working low-income people for help and sympathy, and the latter will have more of a chance of getting ahead…