Councilwoman Mungo, Joined By Councilmembers Supernaw and Austin, Agendize Council Item To Oppose "Transit Rich" Housing Density Dictating SB 827, Saying It Would Usurp Local Restrictions
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(Feb. 9, 2018, 7:55 p.m.) -- Councilwoman Stacy Mungo, joined by Counilmembers Daryl Supernaw and Al Austin, have added an item to the Feb. 13 City Council agenda seeking Council support to request that the City Manager "formally communicate the City's opposition to Senate Bill 827, which would usurp local restrictions."
SB 827 (authored by state Senator Scott Wiener (D, SF)) would [rough summary, see bill text here] give certain housing developers density bonuses and require cities to let such developers build multi-unit residential buildings at minimum heights ranging from 45 to 85 feet [roughly four to eight stories] within a half mile of a major transit stop or a quarter mile of a high-quality transit corridor (bill text details below.)
[Scroll down for further.]
In their agendizing memo, Councilmembers Mungo, Supernaw and Austin write in pertinent part:
In the State of California, 121 of its 478 cities are charter cities. These cities operate under their
own city charters, allowing for more local control than general law cities. One of the many distinctions a charter city enjoys is greater control over zoning regulations.
The City of Long Beach is currently in the process of updating the General Plan, including the Land Use Element and Urban Design Element. The Land Use Element is the document which provides an overall framework for what a parcel of land can be used for, and the maximum size of the buildings that can be built that parcel.
The current proposal of the General Plan's Land Use Element allows for increased housing units in the City of Long Beach, in the locations and manner which have been guided by the Long Beach Planning Commission, Long Beach Development Services, and the residents of Long Beach. These locations, including their size limitations, have been arrived at following a long process of community feedback and communication with thousands of residents.
The Land Use Element guides the locations and sizes of potential residential development, but does not guide the affordability of the development as it is not the appropriate document for such; the General Plan's Housing Element, adopted in 2014, addresses the City's low-income and affordable housing needs.
In Senate Bill 827, the State of California is looking to set statewide planning and zoning guidelines. This bill would exempt certain housing projects from many aspects of local zoning requirements, including: maximum controls on residential density or floor area ratio, minimum parking requirements, maximum height limits, and certain design standards. The proposed guidelines in the bill would apply to all forms of local government, including charter cities.
This is an egregious usurping of local authority. Zoning and land use are key elements to the make-up of a city. It is the desire of the City of Long Beach that the City and its residents make their own decisions regarding the development of their neighborhoods, not the State of California.
The proposed action comes as a March 6 Council vote approaches on whether to approve city staff density increase LUE maps (with somewhat reduced density from previous iterations), tweak/change parts of the draft maps (for subsequent EIR hearings and a future Council vote), or receive and file city staff's LUE materials for now to seek further information on neighborhood and citywide LUE legal impacts of multiple 2017 Sacramento enacted housing bills (including SB 35.)
LBREPORT.com first reported SB 827 on January 4 (the day after its introduction) as did LATimes.com. LBREPORT.com followed-up with reports on January 8 (reactions to the bill in other cities), Jan 26 (SB 827's potential LB impacts in view of LBTransit's planned expansion transit expansions) and on January 28 (opposition to SB 827 by the statewide League of CA Cities.)
On Feb. 6, North Long Beach News publisher Dan Pressburg raised the issue of SB 827 with Mayor Garcia during a Feb. 5 privately-conducted LUE meeting, and Mr. Pressburg told LBREPORT.com (reported Feb. 8) that Mayor Garcia responded: "they're looking at it."
SB 827 proposes the enact the following:
(b) Notwithstanding any local ordinance, general plan element, specific plan, charter, or other local law, policy, resolution, or regulation, a transit-rich housing project shall receive a transit-rich housing bonus which shall exempt the project from all of the following:
(1) Maximum controls on residential density or floor area ratio.
(2) Minimum automobile parking requirements.
(3) Any design standard that restricts the applicant's ability to construct the maximum number of units consistent with any applicable building code.
(4) (A) If the transit-rich housing project is within either a one-quarter mile radius of a high-quality transit corridor or within one block of a major transit stop, any maximum height limitation that is less than 85 feet, except in cases where a parcel facing a street that is less than 45 feet wide from curb to curb, in which case the maximum height shall not be less than 55 feet. If the project is exempted from the local maximum height limitation, the governing height limitation for a transit-rich housing project shall be 85 feet or 55 feet, as provided in this subparagraph.
(B) If the transit-rich housing project is within one-half mile of a major transit stop, but does not meet the criteria specified in subparagraph (A), any maximum height limitation that is less than 55 feet, except in cases where a parcel facing a street that is less than 45 feet wide from curb to curb, in which case the maximum height shall not be less than 45 feet. If the project is exempted from the local maximum height limitation, the governing height limitation for a transit-rich housing project shall be 55 feet or 45 feet, as provided in this subparagraph.
(C) For purposes of this paragraph, if a parcel has street frontage on two or more different streets, the height maximum pursuant to this paragraph shall be based on the widest street.
SB 827 specifies the following:
"High quality transit corridor" means a corridor with fixed route bus service that has service intervals of no more than 15 minutes during peak commute hours.
"Transit-rich housing project" means a residential development project the parcels of which are all within a one-half mile radius of a major transit stop or a one-quarter mile radius of a high-quality transit corridor. A project shall be deemed to be within a one-half mile radius of a major transit stop or a one-quarter mile radius of a high-quality transit corridor if both of the following apply:
(A) All parcels within the project have no more than 25 percent of their area outside of a one-half mile radius of a major transit stop or a one-quarter mile radius of a high-quality transit corridor.
(B) No more than 10 percent of the residential units or 100 units, whichever is less, of the project are outside of a one-half mile radius of a major transit stop or a one-quarter mile radius of a high-quality transit corridor.
"Major transit stop" has the same meaning as defined in Section 21064.3 of the Public Resources Code [which states "Major transit stop means a site containing an existing rail transit station, a ferry terminal served by either a bus or rail transit service, or the intersection of two or more major bus routes with a frequency of service interval of 15 minutes or less during the morning and afternoon peak commute periods."
The Mungo-Austin-Supernaw Feb. 13, 2018 agenda item on SB 827 doesn't oppose increased density near transit but says in essence that it should be decided locally by the City Council, not decreed by Sacramento. The local control policy is consistent with a January 23, 2018 Council vote (8-0, Price absent) to approve a 2018 City of LB "state legislative agenda" (approved 3-0 that recites in pertinent part that the City of Long Beach will:
"Oppose legislation that preempts the City's existing control over local matters" with these actions:
a) Support policies and legislation that protect and/or expands the City's authority and rights over its affairs.
b) Oppose policies and legislation that preempt the current authority possessed by the City and delegates that
authority to the State or other governmental jurisdiction.
...f) Oppose policies and legislation that diminish the City's local control over land use, planning, zoning and development decisions, and oppose legislation in conflict with the City's adopted General Plan or other Council adopted land use policies.
The above verbiage is identical on this point to verbiage in the city's 2017 state legislative agenda. The Council's state legislation committee (Austin, Gonzalez, Mungo) approved the same verbiage on this point for the City's 2017 state legislative agenda (although for reasons still not clear, the City didn't oppose SB 35 (taking a "neutral" stance ("working with the author on amendments.") On November 21, 2017, the Council's state legislation committee approved the above verbiage (prior to the introduction of SB 827 on Jan. 3, 2018.
Councilman Supernaw's office indicated in a Jan. 29 email to LBREPORT.com (in response to our inquiry) that he opposed SB 827.
It's not unusual for the City Council to take positions on specific bills. On Feb. 7, 2017, the Council voted to support SB 54 (CA Values Act / "sanctuary state" law) in an item agendized by Councilwoman Lena Gonzalez, joined by Councilmembers Jeannine Pearce, Roberto Uranga and Vice Mayor Rex Richardson.) [The Council vote to approve was 7-0 with Andrews and Mungo absent, although both had been visible earlier in the meeting.] .