Homeowner Threats Ahead in New Year

By: 
Bill Pearl

One year ago, we couldn’t have imagined that state and local officials would order businesses and schools closed, tell us not to go anywhere for anything unless it’s absolutely necessary and to wear a face mask to protect ourselves and others.

We can’t predict the course of the pandemic but it’s quite clear that in 2021 it will behoove Long Beach homeowners to take prudent steps to protect their neighborhoods in the face of some now-advancing Sacramento actions.

Two weeks ago, we detailed in the Beachcomber multiple bills recently introduced in Sacramento, some of which nearly became law last year, that could increase density in single family home neighborhoods by preventing actions by local officials to stop it.

Some say this would permanently damage families’ choice of a low-density, suburban lifestyle; others argue it’s overdue to address a chronic housing shortage. (The article is online on-demand at https://beachcomber.news/content/new-housing-density-bills-introduced)

So, what to do? We suggest the steps below.

1. In addition to Beachcomber coverage, you can get continuing updates on every bill free, directly from a website operated by the state legislature: http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/. (Lobbyists and insiders use it; why not you?) Enter the bill number, click “track bill” and you’ll get a screen inviting you to enter your email address. If you haven’t done so before, you’ll need to register. When you do, you’ll instantly receive an emailed temporary password you can change. Then go to “my subscriptions,” enter the bill number(s) you want to track (we suggest requesting info on every action affecting the bill) and you’re all set.

We just subscribed to SB 9, the bill co-authored by state Senator Lena Gonzalez (D, LB-SE LA County), the successor to her co-authored SB 1120 last year that would allow, and prevent City Halls from denying, four housing units on single family home lots. Although this would directly affect many LB neighborhoods, Long Beach City Hall quietly took no position on her bill as it advanced.

We doubt residents received any info on this neighborhood-impacting bill in “newsletters” from Councilmembers Mungo, Supernaw or Price who likewise didn’t agendize an item to take a position on the bill. It fell to Corliss Lee and her grassroots Eastside Voice (and Livable California statewide) to oppose the bill, sound the alarm and the last year’s version failed within (literally) minutes of passage.

2. Take a position on the bill in a way that amplifies your voice. If you’re part of a neighborhood or civic group (and even if you’re not), ask the group’s leadership to support your position on the bill. Offer to speak to the group personally on this. On major bills, it may produce local news coverage drawing attention to the bill and to your role in the process. When the bill is scheduled for a state Senate or Assembly Committee hearing (you’ll know this because you signed up to track the bill) email your group’s position to the committee and your group’s name and position will appear in the committee’s formal legislative analysis that accompanies every bill.

3. Circulate your group’s resolution to other neighborhood and civic groups. Urge other groups to adopt the same resolution as your group. Use social networks to spread the word (including each time a group supports your position).

4. Citing the supportive resolutions and building momentum, aim to get the City of Long Beach to take your position on the bill. If city staff remains mum (as it did with SB 1120), ask the council’s “State Legislation Committee” chair, Rex Richardson, to agendize the issue for his committee’s recommendation to the full council. (Richardson as chair is the only one who can agendize it for his committee’s recommendation.)

5. If Richardson declines to bring it to his committee, approach LB’s other eight councilmembers and ask them to agendize the item for a full council vote. Any single councilmember can agendize the issue for a council majority vote to approve.

6. If no council incumbent will agendize the issue, say so on social media and politely but firmly criticize their stance. This will amplify the issue further.

7. Don’t let City Hall’s releuctance change your position. You can proudly and honorably take a position different than the City of Long Beach.

If all this seems like a bother to you, consider what happened to residents of La Marina Estates (generally south of Atherton St. north of Anaheim St. and east of Palo Verde, near CSULB.) They woke up one day to learn that a savvy property investor had turned a single-family home into an 11-bedroom residence. He used a Sacramento bill that flew through the state legislature with the silence of Long Beach city staff and council members.

The Beachcomber will continue to report Sacramento actions that impact neighborhoods. In 2021, Long Beach neighborhoods can for the first time assert themselves in an organized way in the state legislative process or let others continue to do so and decide the outcome for them.

Bill Pearl publishes lbreport.com, an online local news source since August 2000.

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