|(Nov. 29, 2017, 8:30 a.m.) -- LBREPORT.com has obtained a copy of a memo dated November 27, sent by the City Attorney's office to Mayor Robert Garcia, members of the City Council, Development Services Director. Amy Bodek and Manager of Gov't Affairs Diana Tang, regarding SB 35, Sacramento-enacted legislation that as of Jan.1, SB 35 will enable developers to gain clerk-type approval for certain multi-unit residential projects that meet the bill's various requirements, erasing long-standing public statutory rights (under CEQA) to receive and review environmental (neighborhood) impact reports, to oppose such projects at public hearings with City Council recorded votes and in some cases erasing LB-enacted parking requirements. The City of Long Beach let SB 35 become law without City opposition, despite language in the Council's 2017 "State Legislation Agenda" to oppose bills preempting local City decisionmaking including on land use matters (details below.)
LBREPORT.com has obtained a copy of the memo written by Assistant City Attorney Mike Mais; and in the public interest we link to it in full here. [Note an erratum in memo's first paragraph: should indicate upcoming "Planning Commission," not "City Council" discussion in mid-December (Dec. 11)]
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LB's Mayor and City Councilmembers let SB 35 advance to final passage without discussion by the Council's State Legislation Committee (Austin, Mungo, Gonzalez) or by the full City Council at the same time city staff was and is simultaneously advancing a major revision to the city's Land Use Element with accompanying density increase maps.
SB 35 was opposed by dozens of CA cities and by the League of CA Cities, but the City of Long Beach remained "neutral" on SB 35, despite a "2017 State Legislative Agenda" (a list of 2017 policies) approved by the Council's "State Legislation Committee" (Austin, Mungo, Gonzalez) on Jan. 10, 2017, and approved by the full Council on April 4, 2017 (7-0, Price and Andrews absent) reciting that the following would be City of Long Beach policy toward state legislation: "oppose legislation that preempts the City's existing control over local matters"..."oppose policies and legislation that preempts the current authority possessed by the City and delegates that authority to the State or other government jurisdiction"..."oppose policies and legislation that diminishes 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."
Instead, the City of Long Beach took a "watch" position as SB 35 advanced to passage, despite SB 35's content in applicable circumstances preempting local control and diminishing the city's decision making over land use, parking and other development issues.
Citing loss of local control, multiple CA opposed SB 35 (including Lakewood and Signal Hill) as did the League of CA Cities (advocacy group for over 400+ dues paying cities, including LB.) the LB City Council voted earlier this year to oppose Sacramento legislation that could reduce local control, the City of LB remained officially "neutral" on SB 35 and working with the author on amendments consistent with the city's policy on local control.
On June 1, SB 35 cleared the state Senate with "yes" votes by LB-area State Senators Ricardo Lara (D, LB-Huntington Park) and Janet Nguyen (R, SE LB-west OC).
About a week before final Sac'to votes, Assemblyman Patrick O'Donnell (D, LB-SP) announced his opposition to SB 35 (citing LB's history of "crackerbox" density and loss of local control)...but by this time Sac'to's Democrat majority legislative leadership already had sufficient supportive votes in line for SB 35's passage. At an early September community meeting, 3rd Councilwoman Suzie Price indicated that like O'Donnel she also opposed SB 35 based on local control. About the same time, Mayor Robert Garcia quietly Tweeted to an individual that he also opposed SB 35.
In the days prior to the final legislative vote, Mayor Garcia flew to Lima, Peru for a photo-op (his presence not legally required) related to the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics (at which organizers have scheduled some Long Beach events) instead of traveling to Sacramento to try to stop or gain some amendments protecting LB's interests. Instead, Councilman Al Austin (chosen by Garcia to chair the Council's "State Legislation Committee") flew to Sacramento in the final days of the legislative session for an event held by the League of CA Cities. (Austin's office hasn't responded to LBREPORT.com requests for information on what, if anything, Councilman Austin did re SB 35 during the trip.)
Councilman Austin has previously indicated to LBREPORT.com that he is considering a possible run for the state Senate seat that would become vacant if state Senator Ricardo Lara (D, LB-Huntington Park) is elected statewide Insurance Commissioner in November 2018.
On November 21, 2017 the Council's "State Legislative Committee" -- which held no meetings between Jan. 10 and Nov. 21 while the state legislature was in session and advancing SB 35, received a report from city management's Manager of Government Affairs, Diana Tang on what took place during the legislative year. Ms. Tang indicated that Long Beach along with some other cities had managed to have some text inserted in SB 35 that acknowledges the applicability of certain city land use documents, and candidly acknowledged that the amendment wasn't as much as some might have liked. (LBREPORT.com coverage here.) [No Committee members mentioned the verbiage they'd approved in January, and the Council approved in April, by which the City stated it would oppose legislation affecting local control.]
SB 35 was supported by Sac'to Dem leadership, including Governor Brown, and was also supported by L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti.
On November 21, members of the City Council's "State Legislation Committee" failed to asked city staff why the City failed to oppose SB 35 (The "State Legislation Committee" didn't meet on SB 35 or any Sacramento matters between Jan. 10 and November 21; Sacramento's legislative session ended on September 15 with passage of SB 35 and other housing related bills.
On November 27, Councilwoman Mungo held a 5th district community meeting on the Land Use Element / density increase maps at which she responded to audience shouts about the effects of SB 35 by stating that state laws can change on any day and told her constituents to call their state lawmakers.
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