Guest Editorial: Say goodbye to your single-family neighborhoods
The California state legislature is about to pass two bills that will destroy neighborhoods and change the concept of single-family communities forever. The legislature does not intend to specifically ruin neighborhoods, but that is exactly what SB9 and SB10 will do. The bills have already been passed by the State Senate and are awaiting Assembly approval.
Positioned as a way to solve the ‘housing crisis’, the bills will replace local land use plans and zoning designations to pave the way for divided lots and multi-family dwellings to replace single-family homes, with little oversight and no public participation. Neither bill, however, provides for affordable housing, referring to the resulting new units as market rates.
SB9 and SB10 were written by State Senators Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) and Scott Weiner (D-San Francisco) respectively. Both say they want to end the ownership of single-family homes in California. Weiner has said publicly that “single family homes and yards are immoral.”
SB9 rezones, by state law, virtually all plots in single-family residential areas. It takes precedence over local zoning, prohibits public hearings and discretionary decisions on split-lot housing, and exempts these developments from environmental review. Residential lots can be divided to accommodate two units on each half. Previous legislation already removed local control of accessory housing units (ADUs) and junior ADUs built on residential lots. This means that a single family property could be modified with an ADU, a JADU and then be subdivided to accommodate four more units. This puts eight units on a plot provided by local land use plans to contain only one.
Requests to split lots must be approved “ministerially”. There is no consideration for community values ie heritage trees, views, bike paths, open spaces. With only four foot setbacks required and split lots as small as 1,200 square feet, units can be crammed without green space. Developers are not required to contribute infrastructure or provide parking. Cities that normally collect fees from developers for improving roads, parks and schools will have to make up the difference themselves.
Orange County State Senators Bob Archuleta (SD-32), Tom Umberg (SD-34) and Dave Min (SD-37) voted yes on SB9. Pat Bates (SD-36) voted no and Josh Newman (SD-29) did not register a vote.
SB9 exempts historic districts, hazardous waste sites, high fire areas, or lands designated for conservation.
Enter SB10. This bill gives city councils and county supervisors the ability to rezone at the ministerial level properties in loosely defined “urban fill” or “transit rich” areas for ten-unit buildings. “Urban fill” in California means virtually any land containing housing or business, or any vacant land. “Transit rich” means there is a bus line 800 meters away. SB 10 will license 10-unit apartment buildings at “market price” as well as Grandma’s apartments on most blocks in most communities, including business districts and single-family neighborhoods.
The only exemption concerns areas considered high fire areas by the state. The bill does not reconcile the impacts on infrastructure or on the parking requirement. It invalidates CR&R restrictions and, most blatantly, allows local governing bodies to overturn voter-initiated zoning restrictions.
Lawyer Robert Perlmutter, who has represented the citizens of Orange County on land use issues, wrote a letter to Senator Atkins’ legal counsel regarding SB10. “As the California Supreme Court has repeatedly stated,” he wrote, “the power of initiative is not a right granted to the people. Rather, it is a power reserved by them in their constitution. A fundamental aspect of the power of initiative at the local level is that it gives voters the final legislative say. SB10 would reverse this principle by giving local legislative bodies the final legislative say over voters. “
In his view, added Perlmutter, “the legislature does not have the constitutional power to allow city council or supervisory boards to overthrow the will of voters in this way.”
Obviously, lawyers Min and Umberg are unaware of this constitutional drawback, as both voted yes on SB10. Archuleta also voted yes. Pat Bates gets it and votes no. Lawyer Newman can also understand the intricacies and did not record a vote.
Promoters and investors salivate. Homeowners who could see this legislation as an opportunity to make a return on their residential investment could be disappointed. Homeowners have to pay off their mortgages when they divide their lots and new plots will be revalued at the resulting higher value. Homeowners may not want to take on a higher tax burden, but developers will. And why not. Supported by a stable of investors, they can outbid families looking for housing and replace the single residence with four, six, eight or 10 units without annoying local ordinances to bypass, no fees to pay, no environmental impact. reports to produce and no public hearings to endure.
AB10 could be voted on by the assembly as soon as possible. Sharon Quirk-Silva (AD-65) voted yes in committee. Orange County Assembly Delegates Phillip Chen (AD-55), Steven Choi (AD-68), Tom Daly (AD-69), Janet Nguyen (AD-72), Laurie Davis (AD-73) and Cottie Petrie-Norris (AD -74) have yet to be heard.
I would like to thank Tina Richards, editor of the Foothills Sentry journal, for providing the research to her opinion to the editor of the article. Tina closely follows land use issues and their impacts on communities in Orange County.
SB 10 will be voted on in the Assembly and we have a month-long summer break to fight both SB 9 and SB 10 before lawmakers return on August 16! Call today to stop SB 10. Here is the website to fight back. https://www.livablecalifornia.org/please-opposer-sb-10/
Supporters of Sacramento’s “trickle-down” housing are trying to revive divisive pre-COVID SB 50 legislation through a cluster of bad bills, the worst of which are SB 9 and SB 10.
They both passed to the Senate. Without your intervention, that is, by contacting your member of the legislature, many bad bills could become law this summer.
We are the key to stopping these bills, drafted by lawmakers who believe that high-priced, dense housing will spill over to those who cannot afford it. Here is a summary of the two bills.
SB 9 (Let Us End Homeownership, by Toni Atkins and Scott Wiener) Crushes single-family zoning in California, a threat to 7 million homeowners at all income levels. Wiener called the courtyards and single-family homes “immoral.” SB 9 allows 4 houses at market rate where 1 house is currently located (or up to 6 units, if the developers use an obscure “two-step” allowed by this bill). SB 9 requires NO affordable units. This clearly opens all the streets of single family homes to the uncontrolled, greedy and disruptive speculation of the investors who are pouring into the single family home market today. SB 9 marks the beginning of the end of homeownership in California. It is the worst and most controversial bill of 2021. It is the double bill of 2020, SB 1120, was the worst and most controversial bill of 2020.
SB 10 (14-Unit Buildings Everywhere, by Scott Wiener) Allows any city council to override voter-approved voting measures that protect shorelines, farms and other land – killing a California voter right of 108 years old. Equally gruesome, SB 10 allows any city council to rezone almost any plot to allow luxury apartments of 10 units, plus 2 ADUs and 2 JADUs (grandma apartments), going beyond any zoning, including single family. and commercial. It invites the demolition and gentrification of older, diverse, multi-family and single-family neighborhoods. SB 10 requires NO affordable units. Like SB 9, its ugly cousin, SB 10 opens up neighborhoods to uncontrolled speculation.
Send letters opposing SB 9 and SB 10 to the legislative portal at: https://calegislation.lc.ca.gov/Advocates/faces/index.xhtml You need two letters: one against SB 9 , one against SB 10. PDF or Mot.
Letters from groups, even from neighborhood clubs, have a big impact: create a name that suits you. Write a letter: Place your group’s name or logo and your address at the top. You have to sign at the bottom.
How to use the state portal: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M2iKYZzRCUY
These decisions made in Sacramento will affect all of our lives and the lives of our families and future children. I ask everyone to find out what is going on in California and if this is affecting you negatively, ask them to stop with this horrible legislation.
The Town of Stanton has taken a stand against SB 9 and SB10.
This guest editorial was written by David John Shawver, Mayor of the Town of Stanton.