A Clash of Housing Philosophies Is At The Heart of a High-Profile California State Senate Race
First-time state Senate candidate Jackie Fielder’s housing plans are geared toward government investment, while incumbent Scott Wiener’s plans have relied on the construction of market rate housing with some affordable units.
More than 8,000 people are unhoused in San Francisco, which has the third-largest population of billionaires of any city in the world.
“The money is there,” California state Senate candidate Jackie Fielder told The Appeal. “It’s just the structures are not there to make sure that they pay their fair share.”
First-time candidate Fielder, who has been endorsed by the Democratic Socialists of America-San Francisco, is running to unseat incumbent Scott Wiener to represent District 11, which includes San Francisco. Both Fielder and Wiener are running as Democrats.
To solve the state’s housing crisis, she and Wiener have presented voters with two different paths: Wiener’s favors reliance on the market, and Fielder’s leans on government investment.
As a state senator, Wiener has pushed for changing zoning restrictions so more housing that is both market rate and affordable can be built. His bill, SB 35, which was signed into law in 2017, created a streamlined process for the construction of affordable housing. He’s also introduced legislation to increase the construction of shelters and to permit houses of worship and non-profits to build affordable housing on their property, even if it’s not zoned for residential housing.
“His record on housing and homelessness is one of the strongest in the state, and he is a consistent champion of affordable housing and renter protections,” Wiener’s campaign manager Jack Parsons said in a statement to The Appeal.
His proposed bill, SB 50, would have made it easier for multi-family homes and apartment complexes to be built near transit hubs in areas zoned for single-family homes. He introduced it three times, most recently in January, but it hasn’t passed the legislature. It faced opposition both from NIMBY groups and housing rights activists, who feared SB 50 would lead to the creation of more market rate and luxury housing, causing greater gentrification and displacement.
Rather than relying on the free market, Fielder says the government must intervene and build more public housing for low- and no-income community members. Fielder has repeatedly criticized Wiener for taking contributions from the real estate lobby.
“Triaging homelessness through shelters … alone will not get to the root of the problem,” she told the Appeal, “yet that is all that the status quo has to offer. We need massive infrastructure to actually bring people services and permanent housing, and also single-payer healthcare has to be a part of that too.”