Gov Newsom Signs Multiple Sac'to Bills Enabling Greater Housing Density, Reducing Local Control; LB's Mayor/Council Remained Mum As Measures Advanced Despite Council Recited Policy To Oppose Bills Reducing Local Control
THREE Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) bills require cities to permit one -- and possibly TWO -- ADU's on single family lots in most areas; bills also require cities to permit ADUs inside existing multi-unit (apt.) bldgs. up to 25% of bldg's existing units
State Senators Umberg & Gonzalez voted "yes" but not Ass'yman O'Donnell
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(Oct. 11, 2019, 10:30 a.m.) -- Governor Gavin Newsom has signed into law three bills -- enacted with the "yes" votes LB's two state Senators, Tom Umberg and Lena Gonzalez but not supported by Assemblyman Patrick O'Donnell (voted "no" on two, with "no vote recorded" on a third) -- that will require CA cities to permit at least one Accessory Dwelling Unit ("ADU") on Sacramento decided terms that override local limits on backyard residences/converted garage residences AND allow a second "junior" (smaller) ADU in nearly all areas zoned for single family homes.
From a density standpoint, the three bills (previously reported in detail by LBREPORT.com) effectively enable triplex (not merely duplex) ADU residency in single-family home zoned neighborhoods as the property owner may wish.
Beyond single family home areas, the bills also affect neighborhoods already impacted by apartment density -- including LB's developer-driven"crackerbox" apartment density -- by requiring cities to allow ADUs inside existing multi-unit bldgs in an amount up to 25% of its existing units.
Despite their local impacts, the City of LB took no position on the three bills -- SB 13, AB 68, AB 881 -- as they advanced to passage and enactment. This was despite City Council recited policy (approved Council voted action in Nov. 2018) stating that the City would oppose legislation preempting local control including on land use, planning, zoning and development decisions (details below.)
The three ADU bills vary in some respects but are basically consistent in nullifying aspects of local control of ADUs and overriding local ADU ordinances. LB's ADU ordinance sparked considerable LB Council discussion and debate; it allowed one ADU on some size lots subject to certain locally decided rules...which Sac'to ADU statutes now overridde in several respects:
[Scroll down for further.]
In Dec. 2017 (in response to a 2016 Sac'to enacted locally preemptive law), LB's City Council adopted an ADU ordinance that allowed ADUs on lots of 5,200 square feet or more. In April 2019, the Council amended the ordinance to allow ADUs on lots of 4,800 sq. feet or more. However, under AB 68 and 881, there are no minimum lot standards for ADUs.
LB's ADU ordinance included elaborate parking requirements; AB68 and AB881 allow converting an existing garage to an ADU without creating replacement parking requirements.
LB's ADU ordinance included elaborate owner-occupancy requirements (to prevent corporate entities [absentee owners] from buying up multiple single family lots and converting them into de facto ADU duplexes); SB13 eliminates owner-occupancy requirements for ADUs for 5 years.
SB 13 includes an amnesty provision enabling owners of an ADU built before Jan. 1, 2020 (and in some cases after Jan. 1, 2020) who receive a notice to correct violations/abate nuisances to request delayed enforcement for 5 years if the enforcement agency doesn't deem the corrections necessary to protect health and safety.
All three bills also include verbiage that could impact areas zoned for multi-unit residences [including LB's "crackerbox" impacted areas.] "A local agency shall allow at least one accessory dwelling unit within an existing multifamily dwelling and shall allow up to 25 percent of the existing multifamily dwelling units."
In the Coastal Zone, all three bills include this verbiage: "Nothing in this section shall be construed to supersede or in any way alter or lessen the effect or application of the California Coastal Act of 1976 (Division 20 (commencing with Section 30000) of the Public Resources Code), except that the local government shall not be required to hold public hearings for coastal development permit applications for accessory dwelling units."
In pertinent part, AB 68 specifies:
Notwithstanding subdivisions (a) to (d), inclusive, a local agency shall ministerially approve an application for a building permit within a residential or mixed-use zone to create any of the following:
(A) One accessory dwelling unit and one junior accessory dwelling unit per lot with a proposed or existing single-family dwelling if all of the following apply:
(i) The accessory dwelling unit or junior accessory dwelling unit is within the proposed space of a single-family dwelling or existing space of a single-family dwelling or accessory structure and may include an expansion of not more than 150 square feet beyond the same physical dimensions as the existing accessory structure. An expansion beyond the physical dimensions of the existing accessory structure shall be limited to accommodating ingress and egress.
(ii) The space has exterior access from the proposed or existing single-family dwelling.
(iii) The side and rear setbacks are sufficient for fire and safety.
(iv) The junior accessory dwelling unit complies with the requirements of Section 65852.22.
(B) One detached, new construction, accessory dwelling unit that does not exceed four-foot side and rear yard setbacks for a lot with a proposed or existing single-family dwelling. The accessory dwelling unit may be combined with a junior accessory dwelling unit described in subparagraph (A). A local agency may impose the following conditions on the accessory dwelling unit:
(i) A total floor area limitation of not more than 800 square feet.
(ii) A height limitation of 16 feet.
(C) (i) Multiple accessory dwelling units within the portions of existing multifamily dwelling structures that are not used as livable space, including, but not limited to, storage rooms, boiler rooms, passageways, attics, basements, or garages, if each unit complies with state building standards for dwellings.
(ii) A local agency shall allow at least one accessory dwelling unit within an existing multifamily dwelling and shall allow up to 25 percent of the existing multifamily dwelling units.
(D) Not more than two accessory dwelling units that are located on a lot that has an existing multifamily dwelling, but are detached from that multifamily dwelling and are subject to a height limit of 16 feet and four-foot rear yard and side setbacks.
(2) A local agency shall not require, as a condition for ministerial approval of a permit application for the creation of an accessory dwelling unit or a junior accessory dwelling unit, the correction of nonconforming zoning conditions.
(3) The installation of fire sprinklers shall not be required in an accessory dwelling unit if sprinklers are not required for the primary residence...
A number of CA cities and the League of CA Cities opposed the bills (extended list of supporters/opponents below), but the City of Long Beach took no official position on them despite Council-approved verbiage in the City's 2019 "State Legislative Agenda" which stated that it would be City of LB policy to:
[Source: From City Council adopted 2019 State Legislative Agenda approved]
1. Oppose legislation that preempts the City's existing control over local matters.
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.
The Council's 2019 State Legislative Agenda also included policies related to housing (including "support policies, legislation and grants that promote the development and enhancement of affordable and/or accessible housing within the City [cites funding items]" but none of those provisions indicate that they supercede City stated policies on local control.
The Council approved the above-verbiage in a November 2018 voted action, approving recommendations from the Council's State Legislation Committee (Austin/chair plus Richardson and now-state Senator Gonzalez). However once the verbiage was adopted, the Council's State Legislation Committee then held no meetings in 2019 as multiple bills advanced in Sacramento's 2019 legislative session.
LBREPORT.com lists supporters and opponents of AB 881 below (source: Assembly legislative analysis).
On AB 881:
SUPPORT: (Verified 9/10/19)
California YIMBY ["Yes In My Backyard"] (source)
ADU Task Force East Bay
Association of Bay Area Governments
Bay Area Council
Bay Area Housing Advocacy Coalition
Bay Area Regional Health Inequities Initiative
Bridge Housing Corporation
Building Industry Association of the Bay Area
California Apartment Association
California Association of Realtors
California Community Builders
California Forward Action Fund
California Teamsters Public Affairs Council
Center on Policy Initiatives
Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy
Chan Zuckerberg Initiative
CityLab -- University of California, Los Angeles
Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto
East Bay Housing Organizations
Enterprise Community Partners, Inc.
Eric Garcetti, Mayor of Los Angeles
Habitat for Humanity California
League of Women Voters of California
Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy
Metropolitan Transportation Commission
MidPen Housing Corporation
Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California
North Bay Leadership Council
Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce
Orange County Communities Organized for Responsible Development
Partnership for Working Families
San Francisco Housing Action Coalition
Silicon Valley at Home
Silicon Valley Community Foundation
Southern California Rental Housing Association
Terner Center for Housing Innovation
at the University of California, Berkeley
The Casita Coalition
The Two Hundred
Urban Displacement Project, UC Berkeley
Valley Industry and Commerce Association
Warehouse Worker Resource Center
Working Partnerships USA
OPPOSITION: (Verified 9/10/19)
Board of Supervisors for the City and County of San Francisco
Cities of Beverly Hills, Burbank, Camarillo, Chino Hills, Fullerton,
Los Alamitos, Los Altos, Manhattan Beach, Monterey Park, Morgan Hill,
Novato, Pleasanton, Rancho Cucamonga, San Dimas, San Marcos, San Mateo,
Santa Clarita, and Torrance
Cities Association of Santa Clara County
Housing Rights Committee of San Francisco
League of California Cities
Marin County Council of Mayors and Council Members
South Bay Cities Council of Governments
Coliss Lee, the President/Founder of the grassroots Eastside Voice urged Governor Newsom to veto the bills. In a letter indicating she signed with the agreement of Citizens About Responsible Planning (CARP) and Long Beach Reform Coalition (LBRC), Ms. Lee wrote Governor Newsom on Oct. 8 as follows:
REGARDING: THE END OF R-1 ZONING - AB68, AB881, SB13 Accessory Dwelling Units
Three bills have made their way to your desk and are awaiting approval on the topic of accessory dwelling units (ADUs). These bills will have the effect of cancelling R-1 zoning in the entire State of California without community input or knowledge. Buyers understand that when they purchase a property, they are purchasing the zoning and conditions in the neighborhood. These bills usurp the rights of the person that chose their property investment under one set of rules only to have those rules changed without public notice or
Please consider a less extreme course of action to increase housing. At the very least, line item vetoes need to be applied to the most egregious terms and conditions in these bills: 1) ministerial approval; 2) banning cities from incorporating owner occupancy requirements 3) parking requirements reduced or removed; 4) traffic issues and infrastructure (i.e. water, gas, sewer) held hostage 5) Multi-family dwellings subdivided into multiple ADUs creating even higher density conditions in already dense areas.
Requiring only "ministerial approval" [SB13, AB68, AB881] will facilitate a rush to building, which is unlikely to result in thoughtful design or a quality product that creates safe neighborhoods. Planning departments in every city have experts that under today’s laws, utilize zoning requirements, EIRs and traffic studies to ensure a level of quality that stabilizes a neighborhood.
Banning a city’s right to include owner occupancy as a condition for applying for an ADU permit
[AB881, SB13] turns our neighborhoods over to developers. R-1 properties can turn into 3 on a lot
[AB68, AB881] ruining the character of neighborhoods. These will be rental properties -- multi-family dwellings poked here and there without consideration for how they fit into a lot or neighborhood.
Removing or reducing parking requirements [AB881, SB13] and multiplying the number of vehicles by adding density to a neighborhood will increase traffic and parking problems and increase emissions. Driving around a parking impacted location for half an hour in search of a parking place or sitting through 2 or 3 turns of a signal negates the advantages attributed to adding housing close to city center.
Traffic issues and infrastructure (water, gas, sewer, storm drains) need to be addressed on a case-by case basis when zoning an area for increased density. Long Beach has old sewer pipes and overloading them could result in a never-to-be-forgotten sanitation crisis. Traffic issues can be more than annoying. They can be dangerous. For example: at one intersection in Long Beach (Pacific Coast Highway and 2nd street), traffic impacts have been judged with the worst rating in the state. This is the only exit from one side of Belmont Shore and could produce disastrous safety consequences in an emergency. Only one bill addresses these issues [AB881] and the other two bills [AB68, SB13] hold hostage the ability of a city to determine where ADUs are located insisting that all 3 bills must be signed into law to incorporate consideration of traffic, parking and infrastructure.
Multi-family dwellings can be subdivided into multiple ADUs. Areas with apartments and condos already experience the negative aspects of high density living and these bills will exacerbate those conditions. Sub-dividing apartment units into ADUs needs to be removed from the bills.
There are additional problems within these bills, which reference one another and encourage that all 3 be signed into law despite contradictions among them and disingenuous clauses promising local controls.
Challenging Basic Assumptions:
While living close to where a person works is desirable, it is not necessarily the primary value that drives housing choices. Most folks choose their location based on "best value" for their family and that includes multiple considerations.
The assumption that people will give up their cars is foolish if there isn't already an efficient, modern, public transportation infrastructure in place. With inadequate public transportation being the norm in California, driving cars is the obvious best-value choice. Recent LA Times news articles report that bus ridership is down and shrinking. Long Beach has the Blue-Line but it is only useful to a limited number of destinations. These bills insist that parking is not needed if a residence is within half a mile of a bus stop (and that would be the entire city of Long Beach). That condition fails the test of being reasonable. Increasing density without considering traffic and parking is a disservice to the community.
The assumption that herding people into city center will improve emissions is negated if individuals have to drive around in search of parking or sit through 3 turns of a traffic light at a single stop We cannot assume that crime rates will not spike with increased density. Quoting our police commander when asked at a Long Beach City meeting about the effects of density, he candidly replied "More people means more crime." We need only to look back in history a few years to get real crime data related to up-zoning. A reported 44% increase in crime in Long Beach occurred the last time our own City Council voted in favor of up-zoning to solve a "housing crisis."...The effects of their decision remain a visible blight on our city.
Issues related to traffic, parking and crime are at the heart of resistance to density.
With the electronic age, many people can work from home. The State could incentivize businesses to adopt a business model that is not dependent on commuting. In that case, people can live anywhere.
In the case of ADUs, it is possible to add housing in a thoughtful controlled manner that increases housing
without negative impacts. Cities are in a better position to manage that process than the State Legislature which
is too far from the reality of streets and neighborhoods to be able to make rules appropriate to each location.
PREDICTING THE FUTURE
Where will these policies lead us? Up-zoning will push property values up and out of reach for the average
family. The opportunity to build 3 on a lot has more potential for profit, so developers will buy up lots in
desirable locations. The rising costs of real estate are reported as enticing large corporations to purchase single
family homes as investment properties, either as buy and hold while pushing up rents, or for the year on year
It seems we are throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Relaxing zoning and all the traditional controls on building residential dwellings is sure to result in eventual harm to our communities. Those rules were in place for good reason.
If the legislators in Sacramento are viewing these ADU bills as a stop-gap solution to a housing crisis, it will come at great cost. I doubt this generation of legislators will be remembered for solving a housing problem. If these bills are signed into law, Sacramento is more likely to be remembered for ruining neighborhoods, accelerating traffic and parking problems to an intolerable level, negatively impacting quality of life and moving real estate out of the hands of American families and into the hands of developers and large corporations.
Corliss Lee, President, Eastside Voice, with agreement from: Citizens About Responsible Planning (CARP) and Long Beach Reform Coalition (LBRC)
[Footnotes/citations in above text omitted]
A day later, Governor Newsom signed all three ADU bills into law, along with multiple other locally preemptive housing-related measures (listed in Governor's release at this link.
The included SB 330, a bill titled the "Housing Crisis Act" by its author, state Senator Nancy Skinner (D, Berkeley), which Gov. Newsom described in a release as "streamlining permitting and approval processes, ensuring no net loss in zoning capacity and limiting fees after projects are approved."
However Livable California strongly opposed SB 330 as it advanced and urged Gov. Newsom to veto the bill:
[Livable California text]
SB 330 kills community input, allowing only 5 total "hearings" per project.This silences the most vulnerable residents, as cities are forced to hoard the 5 hearings for bodies such as the Planning Commission, Public Works Commission, and City Council. Local-knowledge groups such as neighborhood councils -- who fight hard for, and often win, affordable units for communities -- will be shut out. As Berkeley Law research found, public hearings are NOT causing 4-year to 10-year delays, a falsehood our legislators were told at Sacramento hearings last spring.
SB 330 invites developers to sue if their luxury housing project is rejected by a city. It urges self-defined "future" residents to sue if a city rejects a project, opening the state courts to endless frivolous lawsuits. As think tank Embarcadero Institute warned, "Giving legal standing to parties with no established property interest (and who may have competing interests), could expose local governments to lawsuits and appeals by multiple parties, creating further delays rather than streamlining the process."
SB 330 encourages developers and frivolous lawsuit entities to sue for up to a whopping $50,000 per unit if a city denies a controversial luxury housing project that a developer insists is allowed "by right."
City-approved land-use plans taking effect after Jan. 1 of 2019 are nullified. No matter how many years of public testimony/workshops it took, city-approved plans will be retroactively invalidated, including Community Plans, sustainability plans, and broad land-use plans. Any city wanting to "down-zone" land -- say, to build a promised park -- would be forced into the divisive position of increasing the density of, and thus punishing, some other nearby community. The result will be far fewer new urban parks in California, impairing the fight against climate change and the heat-island effect. How foolish!
SB 330 provides zero affordable units while driving up housing prices and silencing communities.
SB 330 was supported by the CA Realtors Association which issued the following statement on Governor Newsom signing the bill:
"The California Association of REALTORS® and the more than 200,000 real estate agents and brokers we represent thank Gov. Gavin Newsom for signing SB 330 — a major step in addressing California's housing shortage. We were proud to strongly support Sen. Skinner's bill because it recognizes the true severity and urgency of our state's housing crisis,"...
[SB 330] creates certainty for developers constructing new housing units, by permitting no more than five public hearings to approve a proposed housing development if the development is consistent with local planning, zoning and design requirements.
Upon granting housing development approval, local governments will be prohibited from increasing local permitting fees throughout the project's development, which will create more certainty in the entitlement process.
Streamlines the local permitting process for five years in cities whose populations exceed 5,000 residents and where rents exceed 130 percent of the national average.
It labels California's housing crisis a "housing supply crisis."
On final passage, LB area state Senators Lena Gonzalez (D, LB-southeast LA County) and Tom Umberg (SE LB-west OC) voted "yes" on SB 330, with Assemblyman Patrick O'Donnell (D, LB) recorded as "no vote recorded."
State Senator Scott Wiener (D, SF) has publicly indicated he will seek to revive SB 50, an even more sweeping land/use housing measure that would preempt local zoning laws to allow higher density housing near "transit-rich" and "jobs-rich" areas, including in single-family neighborhoods. Amid intense opposition statewide, SB 50 stalled in a state Senate committee... but Sen. Wiener could move to bring it back with the start of the 2020 legislative session.
On May 2, CityWatchLA.com published an article by former Los Angeles city planner Dick Platkin (a former Los Angeles city planner now a boardmember of United Neighborhoods for Los Angeles) analyzing/commenting on recent amendments to SB 50. In his analysis/commentary at this link, Mr. Platkin opens with: "The legislation is complex, even though its essence is clear. If adopted, it would accelerate the construction of tall, dense, luxury rental apartments throughout the entire State of California, including Los Angeles. It puts Wall Street into your Backyard (WIMBY), whether you live in an apartment or a house, by exempting most local land use decisions from zoning, planning, and environmental laws."
On April 16, the Los Angeles City Council voted 12-0 to oppose SB 50...unless amended to exclude Los Angeles. A few days earlier, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors (SF's City Council) voted by a super-majority to oppose SB 50 unless amended (reversing a stance voiced by SF's Mayor.)
On April 29, 8th dist. Councilman Al Austin and 5th dist. Councilwoman Stacy Mungo co-agendized a May 7 City Council item to oppose SB 50 outright ("Request the City Council to oppose Senate Bill 50 (Wiener), which would preempt local zoning laws to allow higher density housing near "transit-rich" and "jobs-rich" areas, including in single-family neighborhoods, and take a "one-size-fits-all" to addressing land use for housing throughout the entire state.") But at the Council meeting, Councilman Rex Richardson argued in favor of taking an "oppose-unless-amended stance" to exempt Long Beach by defending LB's record on housing. Richardson criticized other unnamed cities as well unnamed LB opposition to increased density in last year's city-staff sought Land Use Element revisions that generated a widespread public outcry and led some Councilmembers to oppose increased density in their Council districts.
Councilman Austin (who made the Council motion) ultimately went along with Richardson's stance and the Council agreed to add a "friendly amendment" opposing SB 50 "unless amended" (not directly confronting Sacramento's preemptive stance on local control regarding housing as long as it exempts Long Beach whose LB officials say the City is already working to produce sufficient housing.)
The Council action came after mounting public pressure after LBREPORT.com coverage detailed the neighborhood-impacts of the bill, introduced Dec. 3, 2018 by Senator Wiener (D, SF). Until the May 7 vote, the LB City Council had let SB 50 advance through Sacramento's legislative process despite the City's 2019 state legislative policies that stated the City would "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."
Single family home zones and individual vehicle transportation helped drive post WWII development that suburbanized much of southern CA (including large parts of ELB). However in recent years, that development pattern has been targeted by advocates of increased density who variously argue that exclusively single family home zoning plus parking requirements for new housing have helped make housing unaffordable to many, especially in neighborhoods in or surrounding major cities.
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