• Senate Bills 9 and 10 are bad news and will do irreparable harm to neighborhoods.

      one woman with a mask talking to neighbors

      Mayor Katherine Lee informs residents about Senate Bill 9 (Photo – Melissa Michelson)

      Pasadena Mayor Victor Gordo and Alhambra Mayor Katherine Lee, to name a few, are against this one-size-fits all planning, but these catastrophic bills rapidly making their way through the California legislature are being supported in the higher levels by Senator Anthony Portantino and Assemblyman Ed Chau of the San Gabriel Valley.

      By Melissa Michelson

      In a nutshell, these two bills give carte-blanche to developers to snap up single family homes, demolish them, build market-rate rental units and maximize their profits – jutting up to existing next door homes.

      SB 9 Housing development: approvals “…allows 6 units where 1 single-family home now stands.  It ends single-family zoning statewide, overriding city powers.” (Citation).

      Single family areas will increase 4 to 6-fold and SB9 allows 4-foot set backs so property owners can demolish soft-scape and trees to maximize construction just four feet away from the next door or back yard property line.

      SB 10 Planning and zoning: housing development: density “…allows any city council to rezone almost any parcel to allow 10-unit luxury apartments, plus 2 ADUs and 2 JADUs (granny flats), overriding all zoning including single-family and commercial. It invites the demolition and gentrification of older, diverse, multi-family and single-family areas.” (Citation).

      The worst part is that neither one of these bills mandates affordable housing, so the units would be at market rate, developers won’t be required to put money in to support existing infrastructure like streets, electricity, sewer, and they don’t have to abide by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

      If these two bills pass, the city will have no say, and certainly members of the public won’t either.

      On August 23, SB 10 was approved by the Assembly, getting 44 votes from the 80 Assemblymembers. 35 Assembly members either voted NO or didn’t vote. Assemblyman Ed Chau (AD49) voted yes.

      SB 10 now goes back to the Senate to look at the assembly’s amendments then on to the governor’s desk.

      How your California legislators have been voting can be seen here for SB9 and SB10.

      Beware of the myths

      Some legislators seem to believe these bills would benefit homeowners allowing them to build housing for their kids or elderly family members to live on their property.

      False: Homeowners are already able to build two units in their yards for their family. Who needs to build 6 to 10 units on a single or split lot? These bills serve developers. Wealthier homeowners can afford to assist their family members to move out and into other housing.

      A developer, on the other hand, can buy the property, all cash, demolish the building for the lot-split, and build four units plus the two accessory dwelling units that are currently allowed in CA. SB 10 allows them to maximize to 10 units.

      False: It’ll add housing in the area and prices will go down so normal people can afford it. 

      There are no affordability mandates on these bills. They will be market-rate rentals. It would not provide housing for those that need it the most, the homeless or the housing-insecure.

      False: Foreign investors are going to buy up houses in cute areas and scale up.

      Perhaps, but American corporate hedge fund companies have been snapping up single-family homes all around the country.  Blackstone hedge fund owns over 55% of all residential rental properties in the US.  This change in upzoning from single family to multi-family units is their dream come true in California. This is part of a Wall Street land grab. You can find out and report corporate landlords here.

      False: “This can’t happen in MY area because…”

      SB9 has no restrictions on it. Any and all areas in CA, including fire-prone areas, could see increased density. There was an amendment made last week in the state assembly that the city could have a say if a developer wanted to build a 6-plex on a slide zone or a toxic site, for example, but that’s a rare case scenario. What about all the other neighborhoods in California? These bills give developers carte blanche.

      False: Another SB9 amendment where the new buyer should have the intent to live on the property for 3 years will take care of the developer issue.

      Who will follow through on that?  This state bill makes the cities be accountable for that, but perjury isn’t enforceable at the city level.  Cities don’t have the infrastructure to take that on.  What does ‘intent’ mean?   What about after three years?  And who exactly will be sued in the corporation should they lie and put it on the market for tenants anyway?

      What can be done?

      If you plan to buy into the American dream of homeownership or want to preserve your neighborhood from over-development and Duplex McMansionization in the guise of ‘housing’, you should:

      Once they pass, they go to the Governor of California by October 10 for approval or veto. The people of California will not be voting on them.

      SB 9 is set to go back to the Assembly on Thursday, August 26.



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      1. Melissa Michelson says:

        Corporate wall-street land grab is real, and happening already in California:

      2. Melissa Michelson says:

        Also, the bill language is wishy washy without statutory meaning about historic areas or transit areas.

        Within 15 min. walk from a bus stop or along a corridor where a bus goes does not necessarily mean a bus stop is there because bus stops can be moved.

        the language in SB 10 says: (e) For purposes of this section:
        (1) “High-quality bus corridor” means a corridor with fixed route bus service that meets all of the following criteria:
        (A) It has average service intervals of no more than 15 minutes during the three peak hours between 6 a.m. to 10 a.m., inclusive, and the three peak hours between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m., inclusive, on Monday through Friday.
        (B) It has average service intervals of no more than 20 minutes during the hours of 6 a.m. to 10 a.m., p.m., inclusive, on Monday through Friday.
        (C) It has average intervals of no more than 30 minutes during the hours of 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., inclusive, on Saturday and Sunday.
        (2) “Transit-rich area” means a parcel within one-half mile of a major transit stop, as defined in Section 21064.3 of the Public Resources Code, or a parcel on a high-quality bus corridor.

      3. Mimi N says:

        Michelson wrote in a way that anyone can understand who is really behind these “housing” bills. This will be the end to single family neighborhoods. We need to all write or call our assemblyman, senator and Govenor to oppose these destructive bills.

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