League of CA Cities Urges Cities To Oppose SB 827 (Would Override Local Zoning, Enable Sacto-Dictated Denser/Taller Housing Near Transit); LB Mayor/Councilmembers Mum To Date
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(Jan. 28, 2018, 1:45 p.m.) -- The League of CA Cities, a non-governmental advocacy group on behalf of city governments statewide, is urging cities to oppose SB 827, introduced Jan. 3, 2018 by state Senator Scott Wiener (D, SF) [and co-authored by Berkeley and SF Assemblymembers (both Dems)] that would override local zoning and mandate allowing denser and taller zoning for housing -- to Sacramento-dictated standards -- within a quarter mile or half mile of specified transit.
The League's first action item of 2018 urges cities to modify the text below and send it to Senator Wiener:
[Scroll down for further.]
[League of CA Cities suggested text] The CITY OF CITY opposes SB 827 (Wiener), which would exempt certain housing projects from locally developed and adopted height limitations, densities, parking requirements, and design review standards.
Specifically, SB 827 would undermine locally adopted General Plans, Housing Elements (which are certified by the Department of Housing and Community Development), and Sustainable Community Strategies (SCS). SB 827 allows private for-profit housing developers and transit agencies to determine housing densities, parking requirements, and design review standards within one-half mile of a "major transit stop" or along a "high-quality transit corridor" which could be miles away from an actual bus stop. Under existing law, cities are already required to zone for densities at levels necessary to meet their entire Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA). Additionally, SB 827 would provide developers a means to generate additional profits without any requirement to build affordable housing.
[IF YOU HAVE SPECIFIC EXAMPLES OF THE IMPACT OF THIS BILL ON YOUR CITY/TOWN, PLEASE INCLUDE HERE]
Exempting large-scale developments from General Plans, Housing Elements, and zoning ordinances goes against the principles of local democracy and public engagement. Public hearings allow members of the community to inform their representative of their support or concerns when planning documents are developed. Public engagement also often leads to better projects. Disregarding such processes will increase public distrust in government and could lead to additional ballot measures dealing with growth management.
For these reasons, the CITY OF CITY opposes SB 827.
As previously reported by LBREPORT.com, 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."
SB 827 goes on to state:
(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.
The City of LB is a dues-paying member of the League of CA cities (annual taxpayer cost: $100,000+) but can and does take positions on legislation independently of the League's recommendations.
As separately reported by LBREPORT.com, on January 23, the City Council voted 8-0 (Price absent) to approve a 2018 "state legislative agenda" (general policies that the City says it will follow toward Sacramento legislation), which recites in part:
"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.
This is the same verbiage the Council approved in 2017, which the City didn't apply as it let SB 35 advance to enactment without opposition by the City (which officially remained "neutral.") To date, no LB Councilmember has sought a public explanation for why the City of LB, despite its Council-approved "state legislative agenda" verbiage, failed to oppose SB 35. As also previously reported by LBREPORT.com, the Council's "State Legislation Committee" (Austin, Mungo, Gonzalez, picked by Mayor Garcia) failed to meet from Jan. 10, 2017 to November 21, 2017 while SB 35 (and other housing-land use related bills) advanced and were enacted in September.
Regardless of what the Council's "State Legislation Committee" does or doesn't do, individual LB Councilmembers can separately agendize Council items to support or oppose specific legislation (and could do so regarding SB 827.) For example, on Feb. 7, 2017, the City 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. Mungo, the Council's only registered Republican, vanished on the vote but returned after the agenda item for the remainder of the Council meeting. .
Re SB 827, L.A. City Councilman Paul Koretz, quoted in an L.A. Times article here, called the bill "devastating," "insanity" and "the worst idea I've ever heard...I would have a neighborhood with little 1920s, '30s and '40s single-family homes look like Dubai 10 years later," adding "I don't think people want to see significant rezoning around single-family neighborhoods whether they’re near transit or not."
The Berkeley Daily Planet at this link editorially blasted the bill, saying would destabilize neighborhoods and promote gentrification...and cited data from the SF-Bay Area Anti-Eviction Mapping Project listing contributions to Sen. Wiener from various land use and development-related entities at this link.
SW L.A.'s Crenshaw Subway Coalitionat this link calls SB 827 "a Declaration of War on South L.A.," writing "You'll be hard pressed to find a bill in the state legislature proposed by a Democrat that is a bigger threat to the stability of our community than SB 827." As for SB 827's supporters, it dismisses "YIMBY" [Yes in my Backyard] groups as "the very definition of 'astroturf' - fake grassroots organizations backed by a corporate industry."
A more positive assessment of SB 827 came in the national outlet Slate.comat this link.