The San Francisco state senator who wants to build more tall buildings around rail stations and bus stops will have to come up with legislation that is more politically acceptable to cities and suspicious neighborhood groups like those in Los Angeles, says Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon.
Rendon spoke at the Palm in downtown Los Angeles Thursday at a luncheon meeting of the Los Angeles Current Affairs Forum, arranged by public affairs consultant Emma Schafer.
I asked Rendon how he felt about the proposal by San Francisco Democratic Sen. Scott Weiner, who provoked a storm in city halls and in neighborhood meetings around the state with his proposal. It would have made it easier to build apartments and condos near subway and light rail stations and bus stops. Buildings of up to four and five stories would be allowed. Weiner and building industry supporters said it would stimulate housing construction in a state that badly needs it. Opponents agree, but "not in my backyard."
"We need more housing stock," Rendon said. But he said Weiner's bill, which failed in a Senate committee, "politically had a lot of problems" and that "a couple of steps were needed."
Rendon's views will be important to Weiner if he wants to revive his plan. They will also be important to Los Angeles, at the center of the housing controversy.
With term limits modified, permitting lawmakers to serve 12 years in a house, Rendon, who became speaker in 2016, could hold on to the powerful office until 2024. This means he would be the most experienced, and potentially powerful man in the Capitol. If the favored Democratic nominee, Gavin Newsom, wins, Rendon will be dealing with a governor whose experience can't compare with the incumbent, Jerry Brown. (Rendon said he had trouble remembering the Republican candidate's name--Cox. He couldn't recall his first name, John.)
On a number of issues, Rendon and his committee chairs will be calling the shots. "The ability to serve up to 12 years will have a tremendous impact," Rendon said, declaring, "There will be a shift of power. The legislature will have more power than before."
Sen. Weiner will have to deal with him as he pursues his goal of more housing density and more tall buildings.