by Jay Lifson, Executive Director, Lafayette Chamber


If you have been following local politics over the last two years, you probably heard about State Senate Bill 50, which if passed would have required cities and counties to change local zoning allowing for more dense housing near public transportation and major job centers. The potential loss of local control and the growing homeless population has put many communities up against each other.


The bill introduced by State Senator Scott Wiener would have moved local control to the state level to encourage rapid building. Although the Dems have a super majority in Sacramento the debate on this bill is a split along geographic lines rather than partisan lines. Lafayette’s representative Steve Glazer/Orinda voted in opposition.


The main concerns for Lafayette were building heights, density, loss of parking and the loss of control to preserve our semi-rural lifestyle.


Lafayette’s City Council opposed this bill. There are dozens of bills before the Senate and Assembly that will be introduced this year to address the housing shortage. This however has put many of the proponents back on their heels. California has the highest poverty rate at 18.2% in the country when you adjust for the cost of living. Californians are leaving because they can’t afford to live here. The city has hired a consultant firm to help Lafayette navigate through all the legislation and to have a bigger voice in Sacramento.


Housing and homelessness are our state’s biggest concerns right now. How can we build housing close to where the jobs are or, create business where the housing already exists. Lafayette is doing its part in adding housing downtown, although we are still not hitting our requirements for low to very-low income housing. And to make this even more difficult to achieve, we have to also be aware that housing is now replacing businesses. We are losing businesses, services and jobs. Have we reached a tipping point? Retail will certainly change, but at some point, when do we ask ourselves, “Is this the Lafayette where we decided to buy our home and raise our family?” Our community understands the importance of our great schools. But when developers can build housing in our downtown by right, how far can this go?


Please join us for our next COFFEE WITH THE MAYOR, at the Chamber office on Friday, February 28, 8:00am at the Chamber office, 251 Lafayette Circle, Ste 251. Register here >>