LB's Mayor/Council Continue Mum On L.A.'s City Council recently voted to oppose it; see statewide map (zoomable to include LB) created by opposition groups
L.A.'s City Council recently voted to oppose it; see statewide map (zoomable to include LB) created by opposition groups
|(April 19, 2019, 12:55 a.m.) -- LB Mayor Robert Garcia (who doesn't set City policy) and LB City Councilmembers (whose votes do set City policy) have remained silent as two Sacramento bills that would override locally-decided zoning to increase housing density advance to their second Sacramento legislative committee hearing on April 24.
SB 50, by state Sen. Scott Wiener (D, SF) is the more sweeping of the two measures. It would override single family home zoning to require city approval of higher density residential buildings within quarter mile or half mile radii of certain rail/bus transit lines as well as in neighborhoods Sacramento deems "jobs rich." SB 4 by state Senator Mike McGuire (D, Marin County/No. Cal coast) is more modest in its proposed overrides of local zoning to promote housing.
LBREPORT.com has learned that as of April 18, the authors of both bills haven't combined them into a single-bill although they publicly indicated at an April 2 Senate Committee hearing that they would try to do so. While anything can still happen, LBREPORT.com has learned that the outcome of discussions to create a single bill may not be known publicly until April 24 when the two bills reach the state Senate's Governance and Finance Committee. That Committee hearing will be chaired by SB 4's author Sen. McGuire, who hasn't supported SB 50 beyond advancing it to his Committee. Another Committee member, Senator Jim Beall (D, Santa Clara county), didn't support SB 827 and is a co-author of SB 4. However the Committee's Vice Chair, state Senator John Moorlach (R, OC), is a named
Meanwhile, the City of Long Beach hasn't taken a position on either bill, despite the fact SB 50 is very similar to last year's SB 827 by Senator Wiener which the LB City Council voted in March 2018 to oppose, citing its preemption of local control.
Just days ago on April 16, 2019, the Los Angeles City Council voted (12-0) to oppose SB 50 (unless amended to exclude L.A.) A few days earlier, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors (SF's Council in Sen. Wiener's hometown) cast a super-majority vote to reverse the SF Mayor's endorsement of SB 50.
The League of CA Cities (statewide City-advocacy group in which the City of LB pays dues) opposes SB 50 unless amended (specific grounds cited here). And the California Chapter of the American Planning Association also opposes SB 50 unless amended, detailed in its letter at this link.
For a lengthy list of SB 50's supporters, opponents and those voicing concerns, see the portion of LBREPORT.com's detailed prior coverage of SB 50 linked here.
[Scroll down for further.]
Although Sen. Wiener introduced SB 50 in December 2018, no Long Beach Councilmember, including the Council's "State Legislation Committee" (chair Austin, vice chair Gonzalez, member Richardson) has agendized SB 50 for discussion or voted action...although the Council voted over a year ago to oppose its predecessor, SB 827 (which failed to advance from a Senate committee.) Senator Wiener responded by changing his bill to placate some constituencies but also expanded its impacts beyond bus/rail transit routes to apply to sweeping areas it terms "jobs rich." Wiener introduced his new bill on the first day of the new legislative term in December 2018 and it's now SB 50.
What else has changed since 2018? CA now has a new Governor whose administration prioritizes housing and supports state litigation against cities (like Huntington Beach) that it contends aren't complying with state planning law to enable sufficient areas for housing. Despite long-time city-declared policy to support local control, LB Mayor Garcia has applauded Sac'to's preemptive stance on housing. Five Council incumbents who faced re-election in 2018 are all safely re-elected in 2019...and one of them, Councilwoman Lena Gonzalez (re-elected with no 2018 ballot challenger) is now running for a state Senate seat with the endorsement of SB 50's author, state Senator Wiener.
The City of LB's "2019 State Legislative Agenda" (general policies that the City Council votes annually to approve) includes verbiage reciting that the City of LB will "Oppose legislation that would reduce the City's local land use authority" and "Oppose legislation that preempts the City's existing control over local matters." City staff traditionally prepares letters for the Mayor's or City Manager's signatures taking positions on state legislation consistent with positions approved in the Council-adopted "State Legislative Agenda." A City Councilmember(s) can also separately agendize a Council vote on a specific bill, which has taken place on high visibility measures.
The Long Beach Council's silence on SB 50 comes despite Council actions in the 1980's (now widely discredited) that left the City with developer-driven "crackerbox" apartment density and chronic problems (including lack of parking) to formerly single-family-home neighborhoods near LB's downtown. Those present-day impacts of past actions helped fuel community push-back in 2017-2018 to city staff-proposed land use element revisions that proposed increased density in areas beyond downtown.
Three advocacy groups have escalated their advocacy against SB 50: The AIDS Healthcare Foundation (through its housing advocacy arm "Housing Is A Human Right") has produced a TV ad (visible here and sent mailers (in SF, unclear if elsewhere) blasting SB 50 as promoting racially impactful gentrification. That charge drew an April 18 response from SB 50 author, Senator Wiener:
For further on SF reaction to the anti-SB 50 ad and SF background on the issue, see the SF Chronicle online coverage at this link on sfgate.com.
Although Senator Wiener has responded to gentrification criticism, he hasn't (to our knowledge) addressed contentions by other SB 50 opponents who've described impacts they say the bill could bring to single-family-home neighborhoods. Livable California (LivableCalifornia.org) and the Coalition to Preserve L.A. (2preservela.org) have linked to this zoomable map displaying large areas they say SB 50 would impact (basically up-zoning neighborhoods.) One can zoom-in to see Long Beach areas. The opposition groups accompany their map with the following hardball text:
[Text source viewed April 17, 2019: https://stop-sb50.github.io/it-wipes-out-neighborhoods]...SB 50 rewards developers to buy and demolish single-family housing and apartments near rail, train, ferry or busy bus stops AND near jobs and good schools. SB 50 kills local planning rules, letting buildings tower over homes. The towers can include NO parking, NO space for trees, NO setbacks, and NO design standards. All that developers must do is include a few "affordable" rental units.
On the morning of April 18, LBREPORT.com reached out to Senator Wiener's office to invite its comments and denials (if any) regarding the veracity of the map and its accompanying text; thus far we've received no response. (Online supporters of SB 50 have mainly focused on defending the bill's goals of promoting increased housing but haven't (to our knowledge thus far) denied the development impacts cited by critics in the map and its accompanying text.)
Meanwhile, LB Councilwoman Lena Gonzalez, who voted last year to oppose SB 827 but has been endorsed this year by Senator Wiener to become the LB-area's next state Senator, hasn't to date responded to LBREPORT.com question (invited in writing on Feb. 28) for her position on SB 50 (a measure on which she might vote if elected.) [A competing publication had an opportunity to ask her that question in-person prior to the March 26 initial election but didn't do so.]
And no one knows for certain if by this time next week, all or parts of SB 50 will have been combined with another bill...and whether that combined/amended bill, or one or both of the two separate bills, will advance.
April 19, 7:28 a.m. Some text polished for clarity
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