State Sen. Scott Wiener has been the Legislature’s foremost advocate of loosening land use and design restrictions that inhibit the construction of much-needed new housing, particularly for low- and moderate-income families.

As the Legislature convened this month for a new biennial session, Wiener reintroduced a new version of legislation that had stalled in past sessions – making it much easier for churches and colleges to build housing for non-affluent renters on their own land.

However, that worthy goal is complicated by the renewal of a squabble between two construction union organizations over language governing pay and other factors for workers who would build the envisioned projects. No matter how that conflict is resolved – if it is resolved – it will add costs that could make such projects financially infeasible.

CALmatters is a public interest journalism venture committed to explaining how California's state Capitol works and why it matters. Dan Walters has been a journalist for nearly 60 years, spending all but a few of those years working for California newspapers.

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