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"League of CA Cities" Didn't Want You To See What They Told Cities (Incl. Long Beach) About Impacts Of SB 35 And Other Sac'to Housing Bills...But Shows You Here is reader and advertiser supported. Support independent news in LB similar to the way people support NPR and PBS stations. We're not non-profit so it's not tax deductible but $49.95 (less than an annual dollar a week) helps keep us online.
(Dec. 4, 2017, 9:45 a.m.) -- has obtained a copy of the Power Point pages used at a recent "League of CA Cities" briefing for officials from area cities (including Long Beach) on the impacts of recently enacted Sacramento housing bills. The Power Point slides indicate that League officials discussed SB 35 as well as a number of other Sacramento-enacted bills -- including AB 678, SB 166 and SB 167 -- that individually and collectively impact city land use decisions and the public's rights.

[Scroll down for further.

The Power Point slides indicate the briefing took place on Nov. 8 at a Pasadena library and was conducted by Jason Rhine (League's Legislative Representative) and Alison Leary (League's Deputy Gen'l Counsel.) In addition to SB 35 (full text HTML, click here or PDF, click here), the League Power Point slides indicate the briefing discussed other 2017 Sacramento bills -- including AB 678, SB 166, SB 167 -- that further impact the public's rights and City Hall decisions on housing land use and density.

In releasing the Public Record Act materials to us, the City included this statement: "It should be noted that the information presented in the records is the League's perspective on the legislation. Their point of view is very general since the League provides information to cities all across California; and of course, not all cities face the same challenges or have exactly the same opportunities."



[ perspective: The League's Power Point slides speak for themselves. It's clear to us from the Power Point text below that the new state bills have created significantly changed circumstances that city staff didn't discuss publicly while it advanced its LUE as the state legislation advanced to passage (from Dec. 2016 through mid-September 2017.) The new state legislation effectively amplifies aspects of staff's proposed new LUE. If the Council were to approve the new LUE (with or without map tweaks), the action could cause the City to lose the protections of its current less dense LUE and zoning and expose the City to more intense and less controllable density and neighborhood impacts than city officials have publicly discussed to date. The Council has the option to "receive and file"/take no action on the LUE and instruct staff re-work the LUE cognizant of the new legislation.]


Salient text from League of CA Cities Power Point pages follows. Emphasis (bold, underscoring) as in original. Material in brackets [] added by us for clarity.

"Housing Accountability Act" (SB 167, AB 678, AB 1515)

  • [League text] Restricts cities' ability to deny, reduce the density of, or make infeasible housing developments, and requires cities to justify these actions.

  • Applies to all housing development projects (affordable and market rate) and emergency shelters:

    • Residences only;
    • Transitional and supportive housing; and
    • Mixed use projects with at least 2/3 of the square footage designated for residential use.

  • ...Must make specific findings to deny, reduce density, or add condition making project infeasible -- even if the project does not comply with all "objective" standards...

  • Changes to Judicial Review

  • Provides that a project is "deemed consistent" with objective standards if substantial evidence would allow a reasonable person to conclude the project is consistent.

  • Requires the city's findings to be supported by a "preponderance of evidence." If the city's findings not supported by a preponderance of the evidence, the court must issue order compelling compliance within 60 days. If city denied project in bad faith, court may order approval...



SB 35

  • [League text] Seeks to streamline multifamily housing project approvals by eliminating public input, prohibiting CEQA, and removing local discretion.

  • Allows the developer to opt-into streamlining

  • Does it apply to my city?

  • ...Applies to cities where the number of building permits issued is less than the city's share of RHNA [Regional Housing Needs Assessment, a number created by SCAG] by income category...

    [League Power Point lists SB35's multiple exceptions to locations where it doesn't apply, including in coastal zone, wetlands, earthquake zone, FEMA floodplain unless flood plain development permit, or zoned for non-residential use (unless GP [General Plan] allows residential.]

  • SB 35: Does the project qualify for streamlining?

  • Multifamily housing development on site in which 75% adjoins parcels that are development for urban uses.

  • Inclusionary requirement:
    • 10% below 80% of AMI if annual report reflects fewer units of above-moderate approved than required
    • 50% below 80% of AMI if annual report reflects fewer units of lower income issued building permits than required; or
    • If both, then developer chooses

  • Consistent with "objective zoning standards and objective design review standards."

  • "Objective" means: Uniformly verifiable by reference to an external or uniform benchmark or criterion. No personal or subjective judgment.

  • Consistent with housing density if density is compliant with maximum density,

  • Development is a "public work" or construction workers will be paid at least the general prevailing wage rate...

    SB 35 applies to the project, now what?

  • Review limited to compliance with objective standards published before submission of development application and broadly applicable

    • If in conflict with "objective planning standards," city must provide written documentation within 60 days (if <150 units) or 90 days (if >150 units) of an application's submittal, or the project is deemed to satisfy the standards.

    • City must complete "design review or public oversight" within 90 days (if <150 units) or 180 days (if >150 units) of an application's submittal.

      • No public hearing required.

    • No CEQA review

    • Limited parking requirements.

The "League of CA Cities" is a non-government advocacy body comprised of officials from multiple cities statewide (to which LB city management pays over $100,000 annually in city "membership" dues. The League declined to let the us attend its briefing (LB city staff took no position on our presence, pro or con) so devised a "work-around." We learned that LB city staff from Planning, Housing, Government Affairs and the City Attorney’s office were expected to attend and we anticipated that the League would provide attendees with some type of written materials. After the event was over,we requested a copy of what the League distributed to city staff; the City provided us with a copy, and we used it in reporting this story.

LB taxpayers may be interested to know that based on the League's online dues schedule, we estimate that the City of LB spent roughly $113,724 in 2017 and a slightly lower amount in 2016 for the city's "membership dues" in the group. (We derived our figure by applying the latest updated LB population estimate from the CA Dept. of Finance, Report E-1.)


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