See Sen. Wiener's Polite But Unflinching Letter To LB Council re
|(Feb. 14, 2018) -- As reported (first again) earlier today by LBREPORT.com, Senator Scott Wiener (D, San Francisco) sent a polite but unflinching
Three LB Councilmembers -- Mungo, joined by Austin and Supernaw -- had agendized a Feb. 13 item to oppose SB 827, saying it usurped local restrictions. However after receiving Sen. Wiener's letter, the Mungo (the moving party) agreed to Councilman Austin's suggestion not to take a position on the bill and instead sent the issue to the Council's state legislation committee (Austin, Mungo and Gonzalez) and await unspecified amendments that Sen. Wiener indicated he planned to make to the bill.
No Councilmember(s) read the letter's text aloud. Senator Wiener's office provided us with the letter's text the morning after the Council vote. We publish its two paragraphs below. They speak for themselves.
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I learned today that the Council is considering a resolution to oppose SB 827, my bill allowing more housing near public transportation. Currently, due to low density zoning near transit, people are being forced to drive and pushed into long commutes. This lack of access to transit increases carbon emissions.
Readers may note the basically defensive tone of the Senator's letter. He doesn't bend on his stated rationales for the bill (that others have challenged LBREPORT.com coverage here.)
Sen. Wiener offered to work for what he called "common ground" but if the City Council doesn't like what amendments he'll choose to offer, well, too bad. (Councilman Al Austin said that in a telephone conversation, Sen. Wiener indicated he was mindful of local control issues raised in opposition by other cities statewide.)
The Council could have taken the tougher yet respectable position of "oppose unless amnended." It's the traditional legislative basis to respectfully oppose a bill and gain concessions. Instead, LB's Council sent a self-weakening message. It spared Senator Wiener from the sting of a major CA city publicly opposing SB 827 and left him basically in control of what happens next.
Senator Wiener is no fool. He's a Harvard trained lawyer. He has now seen what LB's City Council incumbents are made of on this major issue that has generated statewide attention and opposition. Not one LB Councilmember(s) dared even to read Sen. Wiener's straightforward, short letter aloud.
Worse still, not one Councilmember mentioned SB 827's potential impacts on Land Use Element density increase maps, now scheduled to reach the City Council on March 6. However candidates seeking to replace incumbents in Council districts 3 and 5 (Gordana Kajer and Corliss Lee) showed they aren't afraid to do so. Ms. Kajer and Ms. Lee raised the LUE issue in an afternoon press availability outside City Hall and went further. They said the City should seek amendments to last year's SB 35, a locally prescriptive/preemptive bill on land use and housing authored by Sen. Wiener, that (among other things) could require the City to approve some proposed housing developments with "ministerial" (clerk type) approval and erased many of the public's substantive CEQA grounds to appeal. For reasons still not publicly disclosed, the City allowed SB 35 to proceed to enactment without stating City of LB opposition.
And in a related contrast, while some Council incumbents have indicated they'll seek "tweaks" in the current version of density increase maps on March 6, Council candidates Kajer and Lee have urged the Council to pause the LUE's advance until the complex impacts of SB 827 and SB 35 (and a number of other 2017 Sacramento housing/land use related bills) have been fully analyzed and receive serious discussion. (Two other challengers in Council district 5, Rich Dines and John Osborn, have also taken a dim view of simply "tweaking" LUE maps.)
On this issue (and others), bright lines are now visible between Council incumbents and Council challengers in two Council districts heading into April 10 eletcions...in which vote-by-mail ballots begin flying in March and will decide who makes decisions applicable citywide for the next four years.
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