Sacto Bills Could Increase ELB Density

By: 
Bill Pearl

Last month, the Beachcomber explained that residents aren’t powerless when Sacramento lawmakers propose laws that could affect their neighborhoods. In this, knowledge is power. Recent history shows the risks of expecting City Hall will automatically protect one’s neighborhood. In 2020, the City of Long Beach didn’t oppose AB 68, which became law and was swiftly exploited by a savvy real investor to turn a single-family home near CSULB into an 11-bedroom facility.

Other neighborhood-impacting bills nearly became law and have been reintroduced now. If they’re going to be opposed locally, residents will have to act locally.

In 2020, SB 1120 has returned as SB 9 after SB 1120 came within minutes of passage. It would allow four residences on a single-family home lot through its “duplex” provisions and “urban lot split” provisions. Its duplex provisions require cities to grant “ministerial” (checklist type) approval to proposed housing development projects with two residential units on parcels zoned for single-family residences. Pro-single family home group Livable California says SB 9 could result in six to eight units where one home stands now by also applying ADU provisions.

Its “urban lot split” provisions require ministerial approval to subdivide an existing parcel to create two new parcels of equal size no smaller than 1,200 square feet (unless a local ordinance allows a smaller minimum.) Garages and yards aren’t required.

SB 6 is the 2021 version (with some tweaks) of SB 3107 that came within one Assembly Committee vote passing. State Senator Lena Gonzalez is among its Principal Co-Authors. Consider what SB 6 might mean for the KMart parcel at Bellflower/Spring and the Ralphs parcel and adjacent parcels along Los Coyotes Diagonal.

SB 6 would deem a housing development project an allowable use on a “neighborhood lot” it defines as a parcel within an office or retail commercial zone (not adjacent to an industrial use.) SB 6 would require density for such a housing development to meet or exceed density appropriate for lower income households. In cities – like Long Beach – within “metropolitan” counties. It would require such housing to reach at least 30 units per acre and comply with local zoning, parking, design and other ordinances, local code requirements and procedures that apply to housing developments in zones allowing 30 units per acre. .

SB 10 would let the city pass an ordinance to zone any parcel for up to 10 units of residential density per parcel, at a height specified in the ordinance, if the parcel is in a “transit-rich” area, a “jobs-rich” area, or an “urban infill” site.

These areas would likely include parts of ELB Council Districts 3, 4 and 5. The final decision would be made by the unelected California Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), which would publish a map of them starting Jan. 1, 2022 and updated every five years. SB 10 would also specify that such an ordinance isn’t subject to review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA.)

This bill would require the state to provide incentives in the form of grants to local governments that rezone idle sites used for a big box retailer or a commercial shopping center to instead allow the development of workforce housing “by right.”

The grants, to be administered by the California Department of Housing and Community Development would be equal to seven times the average amount of annual sales and use tax revenue generated by each idle site. SB15 defines “workforce housing” to mean owner-occupied or rental housing development in which 100 percent of the development project’s total units, exclusive of a manager’s unit or units, are for lower income or moderate-income households.

In 2019, the state legislature enacted AB 1763, which provides a density bonus. This bill would additionally require a density bonus to be provided to a developer who agrees to construct a housing development in which 100% of the total units, exclusive of managers’ units, are for lower income households. However, the bill would provide that a housing development that qualifies for a density bonus under its provisions may include up to 20% of the total units for moderate-income households.

And some state lawmakers want California voters to repeal Article 34 of the California constitution, on the books since 1950, requiring local voter approval if their local government seeks to develop, construct or acquire a low-rent housing project. The proposed constitutional amendment cleared the state Senate last year but stalled in the Assembly. If approved by both houses by 2/3 margins, it would go on a statewide ballot where voters would decide.

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

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