Citizens Concerned Over Two Senate Land Bills

By: 
Madeline Gray

Community organizers and residents from Long Beach voiced their concerns about bills SB9 and SB10 during a meeting held Tuesday, July 6, planned by Eastside Voice and Citizens About Responsible Planning.

The discussion, which was hosted by Eastside Voice President Corliss Lee, informed locals of the potential effects they believe the housing development bills could have on the city.

The bills, which were both introduced this past December, are actively being reviewed on the assembly floor and through the committee process, respectively. While the city of Long Beach has not spoken out against these bills, 120 neighboring areas have proposed resolutions in opposition, according to Lee.

If passed, SB9 would replace single-family zoning areas in California and permit these lots to be split into four separate housing units. SB10 would also allow counties and cities to rezone any parcels permitted for residential use to house up to 10 units, given that they reside in transit-rich areas or urban infill sites.

Residents at the meeting had the opportunity to hear from assembly member Patrick O’Donnell and ask questions about his thoughts on the increased housing density that will come from the measures.

O’Donnell, who represents Long Beach and parts of San Pedro, assured attendees that he plans to vote “no” on SB9 and SB10. He said that these decisions should be made on a local level and that states should not be allowed to split single-family homes and sell them in pieces.

During a presentation on the key details of each bill, Keith Gurnee, an urban planner and designer and former San Luis Obispo City Council member, said that SB9 and SB10 will not meet the needs of lower income residents. Since SB9 won’t lower housing costs, it could also drive out lower-income families. “What’s really remarkable is that there’s no affordability requirements when that’s the real housing crisis in California,” Gurnee said.

Fellow retired city planner, David See said that the replacement of single-family homes with apartment units will eliminate these zoning areas forever. “Our children will never know what it’s like to live in a single-family neighborhood,” See said.

To solve the predicted negative consequences, Gurnee suggested some solutions in response to SB9 and SB10. While defeating the bills is a top priority for these community organizations, he said that it’s important that regulations are simplified, and fees are reduced to achieve affordable housing. “We don’t have a crisis of market-rate housing, it’s a crisis of affordability,” Gurnee said.

As the bills move through committees of elected officials, O’Donnell advised residents to advocate for their position on the bills to other levels of government including their state senators and the governor’s office.

As of July 6, SB9 has been put in motion to receive another referral to the Committee on Appropriations and SB10 will be voted on for its third reading on the assembly floor.

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