Wealthy Bay Area Suburbs Could Have A Whole New Look Under California Housing Bill

When Paul Wickboldt moved to the Bay Area from Boston more than two decades ago, he settled in Walnut Creek for the same reasons many families choose the suburbs: good public schools, safety, a backyard for the kids to play in, and the pleasure of knowing his neighbors.

“There’s a different level of anonymity that you have living in an urban environment,” he said.

With his group, Walnut Creek for Controlled Growth, Wickboldt has lobbied to preserve that quality of life as the city has grown in recent years to accommodate the Bay Area’s economic boom.

Now he worries those decisions may be taken out of Walnut Creek’s hands by SB50, which would loosen local control over housing development. The bill by state Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, has generated controversy for its aggressive approach to tackling California’s housing shortage by promoting taller and denser construction, especially around public transit.

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