Bills Enabling Multi-Units On Single Family Lots Pass

By: 
Bill Pearl

Eastside Voice Urges Political Payback, Brushes Off Belated Council Response

The state Senate (Aug. 30) and Assembly (Aug. 26) have given final voted approval to SB 9 (approves lot splits enabling four dwelling units on what has been a single family lot, exempts state defined historic districts, prohibits parking to match new density within half mile of frequent bus/rail transit.)

State lawmakers also approved (Assembly Aug. 23, state Senate Aug. 30) SB 10, letting a Council majority allow 10 unit buildings on single family lots within half mile of transit without CEQA neighborhood impact review.

On final passage of SB 9 and 10, Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell (D, LB-San Pedro) voted “no” while state Senators Lena Gonalzez [co-author of SB 9] and Tom Umberg (D, SE LB-west OC) voted “yes.”

Prior to the final votes, on Aug. 16, SB 9’s authors made two limited amendments:

A [City Hall] may deny a proposed housing development project if the building official “makes a written finding, based upon a preponderance of the evidence, that the proposed housing development project would have a specific, adverse impact, as defined and determined in paragraph (2) of subdivision (d) of [Government Code] Section 65589.5, upon public health and safety or the physical environment and for which there is no feasible method to satisfactorily mitigate or avoid the specific, adverse impact.”

An applicant [for a lot split would have to] sign an affidavit stating that they intend to occupy one of the four-enabled housing units as their principal residence for a minimum of 3 years from the date of the approval of the urban lot split...

SB 9 and SB 10 are now awaiting action by Governor Gavin Newsom who can sign them into law, let them become law without his signature, or veto them.

The City of Long Beach didn’t oppose the bills (introduced in Dec. 2020), letting them steadily advance to final voted approval. City Councilmembers shrugged months of pleas by neighborhood groups including the Eastside Voice, Lakewood Village Neighborhood Association, El Dorado Park South Neighborhood Association and Citizens About Responsible Planning to agendize City of Long Beach opposition to SB 9 and more recently SB 10. Over 80 cities went on record months ago to oppose SB 9, mainly citing loss of local control. Supporters of the bill cited CA’s lack of available housing.

Any city councilmember or the mayor could have agendized an item to oppose SB 9 and/or SB 10 “on any Tuesday.” None did.

Instead of agendizing an item to oppose SB 9, Councilwoman Mungo, joined by Councilmembers Supernaw, Austin and Uranga, agendized a July 20 City Council item requesting an August city staff report to the Council’s “State Legislation Committee” on SB 9 and 10’s local impacts.

The item effectively sought to shift the issue away from opposing SB 9 to instead debate whether SB 9 would or wouldn’t affect LB neighborhoods. This paralleled a defensive strategy pursued by SB 9 co-author state Senator Gonzalez who attempted to downplay her bill’s local impacts in a May presentation to ELB’s Ranchos homeowners.

City staff’s report (Aug. 25) turned out to be PowerPoint slides (not a businesslike memo) that in several respects sought to downplay SB 9’s local impacts. Councilwoman Mungo subsequently used her Sept. 3 Neighborly News to invite recipients to view city staff’s PPT slides for what she called “a clear picture of what’s at stake.” She wrote in part:

“As you can see in the presentation, Long Beach advocated for many changes that were incorporated. Even with those updates, I want you to know that I share your concerns. As I see it, neither of these bills support the progress we’ve made in developing more housing in Long Beach. In fact, they undermine our careful decision-making made at the local level with a divisive one-size-fits-all approach. This is why I am co-sponsoring an item with Councilmember Austin to request that the City of Long Beach communicate its opposition to both bills and urge Governor Newsom to veto each.”

Councilwoman Mungo’s Neighborly News piece and the Mungo-Price-Austin Council agenda item surfaced at roughly the same time as Corliss Lee, President of the Eastside Voice, urged voters in Council districts 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9 to replace Council incumbents in 2022 with more responsive, reform minded challengers. Council incumbents Price and Mungo are both seeking re-election in 2022.

At the Sept. 7 council meeting, City Attorney Parkin said Austin’s agendizing memo unintentionally overstepped the Brown (open meetings) Act because it was shared with a Council majority before it was publicly agendized. Parkin nixed a council vote on the Austin-Mungo-Price Sept. 7 item but said the council could reagendize it for Sept. 14 council action.

Eastside Voice President Lee responded: “The council’s belated action will only fool the most gullible.  The incumbents failed for months to agendize opposition to the bills. Any councilmember could have done so.  Not one did.”

Bill Pearl is the publisher of lbreport.com, an online, local news source since August 2000.

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