Senate Bills 9 & 10 Will Destroy Your Neighborhood

By: 
Robert Fox

It is clear now with COVID-19 and the anticipation of subsequent epidemics facing us in the future, that density is part of the problem. Maintaining adequate distance is imperative to containing the spread of viruses. The outdated idea that we need to hustle everyone into limited space has been overturned with a new awareness of our world.

The move by almost every municipality to take this “cookie cutter” approach to planning and development, which was crafted in Europe for an entirely different set of circumstances, has been proven disastrous for everyone except those who made money off of the rape of the neighborhoods.

If we are to have an environmentally survivable planet, then we cannot pave over the land and remove the rain percolation into our groundwaters. These plans for 8 to 10 units on one 50 by 100-foot lot would mean cementing over 95% of the arable land. Without green scape, which would be impossible to include in plans for eight units, the rain will not be able to reach the aquifers under our cities.

What will happen when water is constrained to the surface? Floods will occur and increase! We all know that climate change will cause more intense and catastrophic storms, fires, hurricanes, heat devastations and more. If we continue this mass building this will be our future.

Since all scientific people know these truths, we must adjust our planning accordingly. We must not densify our cities. Housing is needed, but space must be maintained in the best possible forested and green way. Carlos Ovalle is a lead certified architect who has drawn up viable plans to increase density while preserving open space and trees. If only one person can create this kind of environmentally friendly plan, what could not the state create with a dedicated will?

With the rise of C02 in the air, every tree will mean more oxygen. These bills will decrease the trees on a lot from approximately 4 to 0. This bill would densify any block in its entirety across the state. There will be no open space within the neighborhoods as developers purchase the land from residents already so tired of this state run amok with bribery, corruption and graft. They see the “writing on the wall” and know it is time to sell and move out of state.

When they sell, it will leave neighborhoods vulnerable to purchase by these rich, uncaring and ruthless land developers just as they were during the 8- to 10-unit cracker box fiasco of the 1990s. Have we learned nothing from history?

There is no provision for infrastructure improvement in either of these bills. What happens when the single-family neighborhoods become dense apartments? Our historic 4” terra cotta sewer lines will not be able to handle the load. Our storm drainage systems across the state will back up creating frequent flooding of filth and putrid back-up water, inundating current housing stock.

In every city across the state misguided development departments have encouraged and allowed high density, without using their supposed development “set aside” funds which were supposed to go for sewers and drains, which instead went into the general funds of the cities to pay high-priced city staff and managers. Now working for the public is far more lucrative than working in the private sector. They set their own wages and raise our fees, fines and taxes to pay themselves. It is okay to be angry now.

What is most disturbing in SB10 is a hidden “gem.” Within this bill is a new law to overturn “citizen’s initiatives.” Instead of having to go to the people for a new vote on these already passed ballot measures, these senators would propose only 51% of the legislators’ votes and overturn the hard work of the citizens.

Think about what this will mean to you personally. Proposition 13 secured your property taxes at your purchase price with a small 1.0286 percentage and could only be raised 2% per year. This is how elderly people and POC, minorities and marginalized communities could stay in their own homes until they die.

With the passage of SB10 that protection will be the first to be voted out. We have a predominately Democratic legislature (leaning “fake” progressive) and finding 51% of them to tow the party line is a cake walk. (For full disclosure I am gay, a life-long Democrat and a progressive in civil rights, social equity and economic equity.)

That does not mean I support this horrible machine of the Democratic majority which controls both houses. We have no checks and balances within the state to stop them from doing what they want.

Already in the past election they tried to do a “split roll” to annually assess commercial property and take those properties out of the protection of Proposition 13. It was only a first step to overthrowing the only protection you have not to be annually assessed at whatever percentage they choose.

Will you be taxed 4% or 7% or more? They would control that aspect of taxation if you let them overturn Proposition 13. Can you afford to pay an adjusted 4% of your actual property value every single year as the land value increases and the affordable housing crisis is unresolved? In Long Beach of the 4,000 units created downtown (according to Christopher Koontz the head of our Housing Development Department), not one was affordable, he claims.

In all honesty I do not think you will be able to pay those bills with yearly increases. Every state that did that pushed out its original populations, dispersed them out of the area and replaced them with high-end high-income residents. Well, if you want to move, I suggest now would be a good time before they pass this and adjust the capital gains sales tax from 13.99% to 16.99%.

Repeating the mistakes of the past is stupid to say the least. In both of these bills, SB9 and SB10, there is no provision for affordable housing. In fact, it is only about market rate high-end construction. Are we supposed to support legislation that only enhances the rich and makes developers tons of money?

Once built, these multi-million-dollar CEOs will be off to Ketcham, Idaho, to reside in their multimillion-dollar mansions without any thought whatsoever for the tragedy they created and left behind in California.

If you would please look at the “respectable gentleman’s” officeholder account would you be surprised to see how much he has benefited from developer’s donations prior to his proposing this legislation?

We have already seen the effect that $1.2 million of donations from the oil industry to Senator Lena Gonzales’ campaign has done to any real effort to regulate that business. Shall we witness more of the same?

I find it hard to stomach that these same legislators (our “trusted” government) created the laws which made such outright bribery “legal.” They can take vast amounts of money from such businesses like land speculators, real estate developers, oil tycoons and the like and then four months later pass legislation to give their benefactors tax breaks, open access to our lands, free rides with “streamlined” development packages and a free hand to seize what little green space there is within the cities of the state.

When shall the citizens of the state have enough? I know we all have become numb to the ever- growing corruption of our electeds, so it is with great humility I ask every citizen to wake up one last time and make your voices heard before it is too late. These representatives expect you to be intimidated, cowed and complacent. This is how their game works. They can only pass these onerous laws if the people remain silent.

We need people in government who will be rigorously honest and work supremely hard for the safety and wellbeing of our people and our planet.

Say no to this overdevelopment. These bills are plans to destroy the quality of life throughout the State. Make a choice. Support the developers who put dollars in their pockets? Or support the residents and this planet who depend upon our government for wisdom and strength.

Times will be getting harder every year. Didn’t you all just witness the electrical outages in the past month? Didn’t you notice the unusual amount of rain and flooding we just experienced. For every block that is densified, you will create a 6” runoff from every overdeveloped lot. Will it take the death of a person or many to make you understand that we can no longer afford to cater to rich developers when the very survivability of our state is at stake.

Robert Fox is a community activist who recently ran for Long Beach City Council District 2.

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