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After Applauding Its Pledge, Scott Wiener Rips Apple For Lack Of Housing Advocacy

In a talk on California's housing efforts Wednesday afternoon, the author of the state's most far-reaching housing legislation singled out Apple for a lack of leadership during the state's housing crisis.

State Sen. and SB 50 author Scott Wiener speaks alongside Assemblyman David Chiu at an event last year.

"Apple has been silent in advocating for housing reform," California state Sen. Scott Wiener (D-S.F.) said at Bisnow's NorCal Multifamily Conference. "And Apple is in Cupertino, which is one of the worst actor cities in the state of California."

The Cupertino company's $2.5B commitment to the housing crisis announced earlier this month followed $1B pledges by Facebook last month and Google in June. Through its commitment, Apple will mostly invest in affordable housing construction and financing assistance for first-time homebuyers, among other channels.

Wiener applauded  the financial commitments made by Apple, Google and Facebook, but took aim at the company's limited advocacy on housing issues.

More impactful than its one-off monetary commitments, even billion-dollar ones, is the private sector's work in policy reform, Wiener said, echoing the same sentiment promulgated by public and private sector officials at another Bisnow event last month

"I applaud these companies for stepping forward," Wiener said. 

"It's not really in the same universe as really, really moving the dial. All the money in the world, without actually making it legal to build the housing, isn't going to get us there."

What many housing advocates agree would have a transformative impact is Wiener's SB-50, itself a partial product of private sector housing advocacy in the form of the Committee to House the Bay Area, or CASA

In limbo until next year, SB-50 would upzone development in transit- and job-rich areas throughout California. CASA, partially headed by TMG Partners Chair and CEO Michael Covarrubias, includes officials from both Facebook and Google on its membership roster but no one from Apple. 

Apple did not immediately respond to request for comment. 

In the past several years, Apple's hometown of Cupertino has gained notoriety for examples of staunch opposition to housing development. Sand Hill Development Cos.' efforts to redevelop Cupertino's Vallco Mall into 2M SF of office and 2,402 housing units, for instance, has faced constant opposition from the city council and a lawsuit from the neighborhood group Friends of a Better Cupertino. 

The iPhone-maker has given no indication yet as to whether it intends to invest in housing development in its hometown.