At NLB Invitation Only LUE Meeting, Mayor Garcia Sidesteps -- For Now -- Stating Position On Density Dictating SB 827
Mayor says they're "looking at it"; Vice Mayor Richardson makes no comment(s) on bill at meeting
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(Feb. 8, 2018, 11:08 a.m.) -- The publisher of North Long Beach News, who attended a Feb. 5 9th Council district invitation-only Mayoral "roundtable" discussion regarding city staff's proposed Land Use Element (LUE), indicates Mayor Robert Garcia declined to say -- for now -- whether he or the City of Long Beach oppose or support SB 827. The bill by state Senator Scott Wiener (D, SF) would give developers "density bonuses" and require cities to let developers build multi-unit residential buildings at minimum heights ranging from 45 to 85 feet [roughly four to eight stories] within a half mile of a major transit stop or a quarter mile of a high-quality transit corridor. (LBREPORT.com reported SB 827 on Jan. 4, the day after its introduction. with bill text at this link and follow-up reports here and here.)
The Mayor's Feb. 5 meeting consisted of roughly twenty invitees (many selected or suggested by Robert Fox, Exec. Dir. of Council of Neighborhood Organizations) in a closed-door meeting room at the Michelle Obama Neighborhood Library. Attendee Dan Pressburg (publisher of the Facebook platform North Long Beach News) says Mayor Garcia paid close attention to statements by the invitees and by Vice Mayor Rex Richardson, the latter indicating in some detail what densities and building heights he does and doesn't consider appropriate along parts of NLB's Long Beach Blvd. and Atlantic Ave.
However no one brought up SB 827 (introduced in January in Sacramento)...so Mr. Pressburg did. He writes on North Long Beach News that "no promises or directions were given or made" regarding SB 827 "with the Mayor only saying they are looking at it." [LBREPORT.com isn't sure who "they" are.]
Adding context, Mr. Pressburg tells LBREPORT.com that Mayor Garcia's swift response and visible gestures indicated he was familiar with SB 827 (not caught by surprise.) Vice Mayor Richardson chose not to comment on the bill at that time.
[Scroll down for further.]
SB 827 proposes the enact the following:
(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.
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."
As separately reported by LBREPORT.com, on January 23, 2018 the City Council voted 8-0 (Price absent) to approve a 2018 "state legislative agenda" (general policies that the City is supposed to follow regarding Sacramento legislation) which states 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.
City Hall's 2018 "state legislative agenda" verbiage on this issue is identical to its 2017 verbiage. For reasons still not publicly explained, the City didn't oppose SB 35 and instead remained "neutral" (took a "watch" position) while (city staff says) "working with the author." To date, no Councilmember has sought a public explanation for why the City didn't oppose SB 35 (and a number of other locally preemptive/prescriptive "housing package" bills enacted with the support of Sacramento's Democrat-majority legislative leadership.
As previously reported by LBREPORT.com, the Council's "State Legislation Committee" (Councilmembers Austin, Mungo, Gonzalez) didn't meet from Jan. 10, 2017 to November 21, 2017 while Sacramento was acting on SB 35 (and other housing/land use related legislation.) Among LB-area lawmakers who voted for SB 35 were state Senator Ricardo Lara (D, LB-Huntington Park), state Senator Janet Nguyen (R, SE LB-west OC) and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (NLB-Lakewood-Paramount.) LB area Assemblyman Patrick O'Donnell (D, LB-SP) was one of a handful of Democrats who voted "no" on SB 35. (Assembly passage was effectively assured by other Dems.)
In an early September 3rd district community meeting shortly before final Sac'to votes, LB Councilwoman Suzie Price voiced her opposition to SB 35 (citing its effects on local control) and about the same time, Mayor Garcia Tweeted a personal message opposing the bill.
The League of CA Cities (a non-governmental advocacy group on behalf of city governments statewide to which the City of LB pays annual dues) opposed SB 35 last year and opposes SB 827 this year. In its first legislative action item of 2018, the League recommends that cities modify the text below and send it to SB 827's author, state Senator Wiener, who authored SB 35 that was enacted without City of LB opposition in 2017.
[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.
At least one LB Councilmember, Daryl Supernaw, has indicated (via email to LBREPORT.com because we inquired) that he opposes SB 827. (We haven't asked other Councilmembers to date.)
Under LB's City Charter, the Mayor doesn't set policy (since he has no vote); a City Council majority sets policy through its voted actions. Regardless of what the Council's "State Legislation Committee" does or doesn't do, individual LB Councilmembers can separately agendize Council items for full Council voted action to support or oppose. On Feb. 7, 2017, the 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 Richardson.) [The Council vote to approve was 7-0 with Andrews and Mungo absent, although both had been visible earlier in the meeting; Mungo vanished on the vote but returned after the agenda item for the remainder of the Council meeting.] .
Re SB 827, Los Angeles 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 is visible in the national outlet Slate.comat this link.