' Holding Them Accountable: Here's Record Of LB's Sac'to Legislators, Mayor And Council on SB 35

Publisher's Perspective / Opinion

Holding Them Accountable: Here's Record Of LB's Sac'to Legislators, Mayor And Council on SB 35

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(Aug. 31, 2017, 5:00 p.m.) -- On Jan 10, 2017, the Long Beach City Council's "State Legislation Committee" (members chosen by Mayor: Austin, Gonzalez, Mungo) publicly voted 3-0 to advance for adoption by the City Council various policies that the City of Long Beach is supposed to follow in dealing with Sacramento:

These policies included [direct quotes] "Oppose legislation that preempts the City's existing control over local matters." This specifically included: "Oppose policies and legislation that preempts the current authority possessed by the City and delegates that authority to the State or other governmental jurisdiction." It also included "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." On April 4, 2017, the City Council voted 7-0 (Price, Andrews absent) to apply these policies in the City of LB's dealings with Sacramento.

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SB 35 has been pending in the state legislature since Dec. 5, 2016. SB 35 (full text here.) It would require cities to grant ministerial (bureaucratic/clerk type) approval -- eliminating public hearings, EIR/CEQA review and challenges (to produce "streamlined" approval) and not allowing City denials -- when a developer proposes to build a multi-unit residential building (including rental/low-income housing) nearly anywhere [with few exceptions] that city zoning allows residences IF the city hasn't issued sufficient permits (not merely adopted "plans" or "goals") for new housing in numbers decided by a regional body (So Cal Ass'n of Gov'ts) [LBREPORT.com coverage here.].

The City of LB's Director of Development Services, Amy Bodek, has confirmed to LBREPORT.com that the City of Long Beach would be subject to SB 35's mandates at this time. Those mandates include requiring the City (with very few exceptions) to approve developer-desired residential projects with no minimum number of parking spaces if they're within half a mile of "public transit" and in other circumstances. In areas more than a half mile from "public transit," SB 35 would forbid the city from requiring more than one parking space per residential unit for new multi-unit buildings [although many units would likely have two or more residents who drive.] [LBREPORT.com coverage of the parking aspect of the story is here.]

The City of Long Beach could have opposed SB 35 outright. The League of California Cities, a statewide advocacy group comprised of over 450 CA cities statewide, has opposed SB 35 for months. Or the City could have taken a more nuanced position of "oppose unless amended." The City of Long Beach didn't do that either.

On June 1, the LB-area's state Senators Ricardo Lara (D, LB-Huntington Park) and Janet Nguyen (R, SE LB-west OC) both voted for SB 35 and advanced it on a 25-12 vote to the Assembly.

As of Aug. 29, LB city management said the City of Long Beach remains "neutral" on SB 35 but is "working with the author on amendments, consistent with the City's state legislative agenda as it relates to local control." Since the public (and press) haven't seen the city-sought amendments, it's unclear if they'll genuinely protect the city and neighborhoods or simply provide political cover for local incumbents.

Assembly leadership is now poised to bring SB 35 to an Assembly vote possibly as soon as Friday Sept. 1 although the vote might happen after Labor Day. When it does, LBREPORT.com plans to carry the Assembly proceedings LIVE.

Smart voters watch what elected officials do, not just what they say. While voting to oppose Sac'to legislation that does what SB 35 would do, to our knowledge no LB Councilmember(s) or LB's Mayor have publicly opposed SB 35 and urged Sacramento lawmakers to vote against it.

In our opinion, LB's incumbent Mayor, Councilmembers and Assembly reps need to hear that they will lose votes that will hurt them in future elections if they continue to shrug and SB 35 becomes law.

We leave it to LBREPORT.com readers to decide if LB's current Mayor and Council don't understand the magnitude of what's taking place, or don't care, or understand exactly what's taking place but attach more importance to campaign and "officeholder" contributions from development interests and building trade unions...and like the 1919 "Chicago Black Sox" (Eight Men Out) took the field pretending to play the game while all along intending to let the other side win.

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