We Are Still Under Attack

It’s not over… SB-50 may be shelved temporarily, but we are still under attack by Sacramento! There are a slew of other state/assembly bills that are moving forward which, if passed, will eliminate local governance over land use and zoning. Most of these proposed bills aim to eliminate single family neighborhoods.

These bills will be voted at the Capitol by the Senators and Assembly Members, not by you and I. We have No SAY, even though it will directly impact us in many ways; mentally, physically and financially.

On June 8, 2019 Palo Altans for Sensible Zoning (PASZ) held a rally at the corner of El Camino Real and Embarcadero Rd. to support local control of zoning.
View the photos.

Since we do not have a vote, we need to bring awareness to people of this assault from Sacramento. We also need to send a message to our elected officials, such as Senator Jerry Hill and Assembly Member Marc Berman to represent their constituents and not the big corporations. They need to “JUST SAY NO”. 

I can’t share all the proposed bills in one email blast, but I will share more in future emails. I’ll start with the following:

SB 330 (Skinner) called the “Housing Crisis Act of 2019” – its name is deceiving. It is draconian.

  • Strips away the power of cities, counties and the “electorate” to exercise its local initiative or referendum powers.
  • Expands uses in residential areas to pick up any non-residential use (could be a rooftop restaurant/bar) and transitional/supportive housing by right and subject to streamlined process with even shorter Environmental Impact reporting time frames
  • Retroactively invalidates any limits imposed by ordinance or amendment on or after January 1, 2018,
  • Invalidates Conditional Use Permits
  • Shields landlords and absentee owners by prohibiting cities from enforcing code violations or nuisance abatement for 7 years, including fire marshal rules, sanitation, seismic safety, etc.
  • Reduces parking requirements

This bill is a continuation of a concerted industry effort to remove all land use regulation and good planning for communities, will create a “wild wild west” for development allowing developers’ to build without restraint and burdening “you and I” with providing funding for infrastructure, services, safety and amenities.

AB 1279 (Bloom) is a “MINI” SB 50.

  • Provides statewide 4-plex upzoning by right without CEQA review for all single family (but not duplex) parcels in a "high resource area".
  • There is NO notice to neighbors or neighborhood councils/associations, NO Historic Preservation Overlay Zones or other historic preservation protection, NO public health and safety protections (earthquake, floodplains, fire, etc), NO habitat or conservation requirements (not even coastal zones - at least this one doesn't carve out Senator McGuire's district), NO mobile home or labor protections, etc.
  • Reduces parking requirements

AB 1487 (Chiu) sets up a regional housing finance agency for the Bay Area that would have the authority to impose region wide taxes, issue debt, buy and sell land, and implement standardized zoning across the Bay Area.

  • THIS IS THE TOP DOWN ELIMINATION OF LOCAL CONTROL OVER MUNICIPAL AFFAIRS including the taxes currently used to fund local government and the authority of local governments over zoning and land use
  • Appointee Commissioners from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and elsewhere;
    Gives these appointees, not responsive to the electorate, the power to impose "by resolution or ordinance" special taxes and fees that starve the Cities and Counties of the Bay Area of all of the following:  property taxes, gross receipts taxes, business taxes measured by number of employees, transactions and use taxes up to 0.5% of each transaction, and commercial linkage fees for developments in the jurisdictions
  • Gives these appointees the power to authorize and subject to any electoral vote required, to issue bonds, in each case secured by all of the taxes and fees that the entity has usurped from our cities and counties,
  • This can be done without our vote or consent (thereby robbing our local city and county governments of property and business tax revenue)and
  • Consolidates authoritarian power, responsive to MTC and Sacramento (remember CASA)

Check out the relationship … to make it easier to steal the money from cities and counties…

ACA 1 (Aguiar-Curry) would amend the CA Constitution to lower the voter approval threshold required for taxes from the existing 2/3 (67%) to 55%.

  • Note that ACA-1 defines “affordable” housing as housing affordable to households earning 150 percent of the county median income.
  • It also defines public infrastructure to include “Broadband Internet access service expansion in underserved areas” and “local hospital construction”
  • It states the revenue generated would fund the construction, reconstruction, rehabilitation or replacement of public infrastructure, “affordable” housing, supportive housing or the acquisition or lease of real property

FYI, in 2011 MTC purchase the building at 375 Beale Street in San Francisco for $258 million (includes renovation costs). They used a toll bridge fund which was sold to the voters (you and I) for bridge maintenance.  Fool me once, shame on you; Fool me twice, shame on me. Don’t be fooled again. https://www.mercurynews.com/2016/05/20/new-mtc-offices-91-million-over-budget/

There are a slew of Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU) bills which is an assault on single family zoning and that does not exclude historic districts and Historic Preservation Overlay Zones, unless on State register:

 AB 587 (Friedman)permits the an ADU to be severed from the primary residence for sale with a lot of niceties around it about how it is just an enabling ordinance that permits local jurisdictions to enact an ordinance permitting the separate sale if built by a nonprofit, only applies to recorded covenanted affordable housing, etc.  But this is what has been happening with land use legislation.  A fundamental concepts creeps into law in year 1 with all kinds of conditions that make the medicine go down (SB 35 anyone?) and then the very next year or the year after, a bill is introduced to alter or erode those conditions. 

AB 670 (Friedman) invalidates all covenants, deed restrictions or any other provisions in planned communities or other common interest developments that would “effectively prohibit” or “unreasonably restrict the construction or use” of an ADU or a junior ADU on a single family zoned lot.  The “effectively” and the unreasonable restriction language was added BY THE SENATE HOUSING COMMITTEE chaired by Senator Wiener.  
AB 68 (Ting) The assault on single family zoning continues. Establishes a STATEWIDE “by right” 60 day approval process (no notice, no protections locally):

  1.  On single family lots, creation of 2 units within house footprint OR construction of one detached ADU PLUS a junior ADU, effectively turning every single family parcel in the State into triplex zoning.
  2. On multifamily lots (including duplex zoning), permits multiple ADUs within an existing single-family home (no limits on density) OR 2 detached ADUs.

STATE WIDE, this removes any minimum lot size, maximum ADU size below 800 square feet and 16 feet in height, require parking, setbacks greater than four feet (and the legislature has already demonstrated how willing it is to go back and revisit any limits year over year). Changes local ordinances RETROACTIVELY to January 1, 2017 and removes all “discretionary processes, provisions, or requirements for those units” other than for places listed in the state Register of Historic Places.  Thus, this eliminates all local designations including Historic Preservation Overlay Zone Boards.
AB 69 (Ting) Requires the State Department of Housing and Community Development to have the California Building Standards Commission develop standards for micro units -- accessory dwelling units and homes smaller than 800 square feet.
AB 671 (Friedman) Requires local agencies to include a plan that incentivizes and promotes the creation of ADUs that can be offered for rent for very low-, low- and moderate-income households in their housing elements.
AB 881 (Bloom) Eliminates ability of local jurisdiction to mandate that an applicant for an ADU permit be an owner-occupant. Deletes language that permitted consideration of criteria and impact other than “adequacy of water and sewer services and the impact of accessory dwelling units on traffic flow and public safety.”  That eliminates historic designation including HPOZ, trash collection, and other important criteria.
SB 13 (Wieckowski) Prohibits minimum square footage that would rule out efficiency units and prohibits requiring replacement parking but maintains local jurisdictions’ ability to define height, setback, lot coverage, parking and size of an ADU related to a specified amount of total floor area.  Perhaps most importantly, SB 13 allows a local agency to count an ADU for purposes of identifying adequate sites for housing and meeting housing goals.

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  • Randal South
    commented 2020-02-08 20:47:50 -0800
    I don’t agree with Valerie’s position. There is no shortage of housing, but a shortage of money to pay for the housing. Housing is high due to lending practices by both commercial banks and credit unions.

    With respect to purchasing a home, banks and credit unions charge the majority of the interest in the first 5 years on a 15 or 30 year mortgage. Based on today’s rates you won’t get that 4% in your Truth and Lending statement because if you pay the loan off one year later your interest ends up being more than 20%.

    Banks and credit unions do this for 3 reasons:

    1) To prevent you from paying the loan off.
    2) To Defeat the common law that says that all debt must be gone within 7 years.
    3) To insure that your house is so expensive that you can only buy the house by getting a financed loan instead of seller financing or cash.

    On the renters side, banks and credit unions issue equity loans to property owners so that they can buy other buildings. They base the loan amount on how much rent you charge so the more rent you charge then the more money the financial institution will give you. As a result, there is a very strong incentive to issue no cause evictions merely because someone’s credit report indicates they don’t make as much money as the owner would like.

    The lending manipulation by banks and credit unions of the real estate market is a direct result of a fiat currency (currency not backed by a precious metal). And for those of us who were here before 1971 we remember how cheap housing was. In fact, I paid only $10/night for a business class motel overlooking Avenue of the America’s in New York in the late 1960s, and early 1970s, and this included a bathroom and shower in the room. That same motel during the same time frame in downtown San Francisco was only $6/night, and you could rent a motel for 1/2 day for only $4 in SF. It was mainly set up for those who didn’t want to wait in the airport for international flights. My point in bringing up all this is to illustrate how much damage banks and credit unions have done.

    A public bank can reverse all of this because a public bank can issue a negative interest rate so that you can pay your loan off in 7 years or less. This cost the taxpayer nothing because the tax payer is generously rewarded a lower assessment in exchange. And it cost local government nothing because the assessments on all government employees goes down. In summary, it is like rolling the clock back to a time before you went off a precious metal standard.

    Public Housing is not a good thing. If you look at the actual congressional act, the first thing you notice is that the program was intended exclusively for people who are 62 or older, or severely disabled. Additionally under current law congress intended that you be allowed to make no less than 80% of the mean adjusted average of your community. If you were in Palo Alto that would be more than $100,000 and you would still be able to keep your benefits.

    But this isn’t what has happened. Today public housing is used for just about anyone but the elderly and disabled, and you are only allowed to make a mere pittance without running the risk of being terminated from the program. The program is used as a welfare program which was never the intent of congress. And the reason why is because the financial community doesn’t want their precious real estate market diluted with low income people. So please don’t tell me that low income housing is the solution.

    What you should be clamoring for is a severely negative interest rate in the real estate market so that low income housing isn’t needed. Incidentally realtors also don’t loose from this because a realtor’s fees could be subtracted from the value instead of added to it. What this means is that a house potentially could be cheaper if purchased from a realtor instead of a seller, and therefore made more attractive. Now how many people would prefer to buy a cheaper house?
  • Valerie Delnick
    commented 2019-08-03 01:19:46 -0700
    Ms. Kuo, I am not from your district, however I would like to comment on your opposition to housing bills, particularly AB68 (Ting).
    We are in dire need of housing for tenants in this state. ADU’s within existing multifamily structures or on said multifamily lots could be a huge boon in providing additional AFFORDABLE housing to tenants, and would use existing multifamily zoning (as opposed to single family) in order to accomplish this. AB 68 is a well thought out bill which would create a potential tremendous number of units. Please re-consider your opposition to this bill. It is a fair and equitable compromise and one which will have minimal impact on your primary concern which appears to be single family zoning. (State law already has dictated that ADUs are legal on most single family lots.) This is an important Bill for tenants who do not have the option to rent, let alone purchase, a single family home.
    Thank you
    Valerie Delnick