Do we need to send Sacramento a message?
Earlier this year State Senator Scott Wiener created a stir when he introduced SB 827. The bill has drawn a lot of attention because, if approved, it would override local zoning near transit stops, effectively taking planning authority away from cities. But while SB 827 has drawn the most media attention, there are other bills making their way through the State legislature that would dictate how local jurisdictions build housing, and cumulatively they amount to an assault on local planning control.
We can't possibly track all of these bills and fight them individually.
We need to tell the folks in Sacramento to back off.
So how about a ballot measure to keep our State officials from meddling in local planning?
That may sound like an extreme step, but the situation is extreme. The State legislature is making an unprecedented effort to override local planning authority. SB 827 would allow developers to build four to eight story residential structures near transit, with no review by local officials, no public input, and no environmental assessment. And that's only the beginning....
Another bill, SB 828, amends State law to require cities to build more housing. Currently every city is required to take part in the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA), which sets goals for new residential construction. This bill, again by Scott Wiener, would mandate that cities accomodate 200% of the low-income units needed. There is certainly a demand for affordable housing, but this goal is absurdly unrealistic, especially since public housing subsidies have been cut by more than half over the past decade. At the same time, SB 828 says that high housing prices "shall be alleviated by rapidly increasing housing supply, particularly housing supply for moderate and above-moderate income households." Wiener seems to think that just mandating more residential construction will make it happen. He apparently doesn't realize that developers build housing, not cities. Local governments can't force developers to build anything.
Then there's SB 831, which overrides local restrictions on building Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs, or granny flats). This bill would: 1) Prohibit any requirement that the ADU applicant reside on the property; 2) Prohibit considering the additional square footage when calculating allowable floor area ratios; 3) Exempt the project from fees for new construction. But it gets worse. SB 831 says that if a city doesn't act on an ADU application within 120 days, then it's automatically approved. If a city doesn't approve the application, it can be taken to court, and if the judge finds the city is violating the law, the minimum fine is $10,000.
Sacramento is making an unprecedented effort to override California cities' control over planning and zoning.
Is it time to start thinking about a ballot initiative that would get our legislators to back off?
Let us know by visiting today's post on our Facebook page:
IS IT TIME FOR A BALLOT MEASURE TO KEEP SACRAMENTO FROM MESSING WITH LOCAL PLANNING?