Governor Gavin Newsom
On October 9th, Governor Gavin Newsom signed 18 bills designed to promote housing production. A number of these housing bills take away local control of land use, substantially increase housing density and population potential, and establish streamlined ministerial approval processes for housing projects, thereby exempting these projects from public engagement and the California Environmental Quality Act approval process.
And SAY GOODBYE TO SINGLE FAMILY ZONING!
The subsequent housing densification and population growth will increase the risk of adverse impacts on the environment, public health and safety, traffic congestion, infrastructure, utilities (water supply), public services (schools), views, sunlight, privacy, neighborhood character, and quality of life.
The bills will create unfunded mandates due to the fact that there is no funding for dealing with the above listed significant impacts. Communities will be forced to substantially increase taxes to try to alleviate the adverse impacts, although many will be unavoidable.
Much of the push for more housing is over-the-top.
When discussing the need for housing, it is important to recognize that California’s population growth rate is at a record low and predicted to remain low. Estimates released on May 1, 2019 show that the State had its slowest recorded growth rate (.47%) in its history last year (2018) due to a slowdown in immigration, a sharp decline in births, and an increase in deaths. Therefore, California, as a whole, only needs a modest increase in housing every year.
We do not need to significantly up-zone vast areas of the state to accomplish this. There is plenty of potential housing buildout already allowed by the General Plans and zoning of jurisdictions throughout the state. And this potential housing buildout will grow each time jurisdictions update their Housing Elements (AKA housing plans) and plan to meet new Regional Housing Need Allocations (RHNA) (AKA housing quotas).
Instead, we need funding and subsidies for local solutions to affordable housing as well as for the adverse impacts that the increased housing would create. In regard to the jobs/housing imbalance created by large corporations, the State should provide incentives to Corporations for them to open offices in the less populated areas of the State that are jobs poor and housing rich, where the cost of land and housing are much less expensive.
Assembly Bill 68, introduced by Assemblymember Phillip Ting, is one of the new housing bills and is an example of the State legislature's poor planning. This detrimental bill eliminates single family zoning and requires a jurisdiction to **ministerially approve a permit application for building two Accessory Dwelling Units - ADUs (one of which can be detached) in addition to the primary residence, for a total of 3 housing units. It also greatly relaxes ADUs' development standards (E.g. parking, size requirements, setbacks, etc.). In contrast, before, a locality could choose whether or not to allow ADUs and if so, could set appropriate standards. In addition, the bill requires a local agency to allow and ministerially approve up to 25 percent of the existing units in a multifamily building, provided the units are within the existing multifamily structure and meet certain criteria.
**Ministerial approval streamlines the permit process and eliminates any public engagement, review and comments.
The bill prohibits local jurisdictions from imposing standards on lot coverage or minimum lot size for Accessory Dwelling Units. It also prohibits localities from requiring more than a four-foot side and rear yard setback for detached ADUs. It is unclear whether or not the primary residence and the Accessory Dwelling Units can exceed the allowable square footage for the lot size (Floor Area Ratio).
The bill further prohibits cities from requiring additional parking spaces when homeowners convert garages to new housing. This will force more cars to park on the street, change the aesthetics of communities and make it harder for emergency vehicles to reach areas with narrow roads, among other problems.
Without requiring a homeowner to live on the premises, AB-68 incentivizes large-scale investors to buy up single-family homes, convert them to triplexes and then operate them as commercial enterprises.
Over time, as the supply of single-family homes diminishes due to conversions to triplexes, the price for the remaining single-family dwellings will become even more expensive.
Moreover, although it is expected that the subsequent increase in housing, insufficient parking, and population growth will result in numerous adverse impacts (traffic congestion, overcrowded schools, lack of water, etc.), AB-68 provides no funding for dealing with these impacts. Indeed, the bill provides an official sidestep of addressing this issue.
The bill states;
“No reimbursement is required by this act pursuant to Section 6 of Article XIII-B of the California Constitution because a local agency or school district has the authority to levy services, charges, fees or assessments sufficient to pay for the programs or level of service mandates by this act within the meaning of Section 17556 of the Government Code.”
It seems that the only relief that AB-68 gives to fire prone areas is regarding parking requirements:
"Off-street parking shall be permitted in setback areas in locations determined by the local agency or through tandem parking, unless specific findings are made that parking in setback areas or tandem parking is not feasible based upon specific site or regional topographical or fire and life safety conditions."
It is important to note that Marin’s representatives, Senator McGuire and Assemblymember Levine, voted for AB-68. This is despite the fact that most Marin residents greatly value single-family neighborhoods.
"AB-68 makes major changes to the Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) and Junior Accessory Dwelling Units (JADUs) statutes to facilitate the development of more ADUs and JADUs and addressed perceived barriers to ADUs and JADUs, including the following:"
"1) Increases the number of ADUs allowed to be constructed per lot by potentially allowing two ADUs on lots with single-family homes, and multiple ADUs on lots with multi-family dwellings;
2) Enables ADUs and JADUs to be approved ministerially if there is an existing or proposed primary residence;
3) Prohibits a local ADU ordinance from:
a) Imposing requirements on minimum lot size to allow ADUs;
b) Setting a maximum ADU dimensions that do not permit an ADU of 850 square feet for an ADU of one or fewer bedrooms and 1,000 square feet for two or more bedrooms, 16 feet in height, with four-foot side and rear yard setbacks;
c) Requiring replacement parking when parking is demolished in the creation of an ADU;
d) Requiring a setback for an ADU that is built within an existing structure or in the same footprint as an existing structure, and require no more than a four-foot setback for all other ADUs;
4) The total floor area of floor-space for a detached Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) can be up to 1,200 square feet, if the primary dwelling is 2400 sq. ft. or more.
5) Allows no more than 60 days to ministerially consider a completed ADU permit application; and
6) Increases enforcement, including enabling HCD to notify the Attorney General when a local agency is in violation of this law.
According to the Author of AB-68 (Assemblymember Ting):
ADUs have surged in popularity as a way to address California's housing crisis as demand outpaces supply. AB-68 will remove remaining barriers to the widespread adoption of ADUs as low-cost, energy efficient, affordable housing that can go from policy to permit in 12 months.
Arguments in Support of AB-68
According to UC Berkeley's Urban Displacement Project, "Recent state efforts to incentivize the construction of ADUs have resulted in more communities and families building ADUs as a cost efficient way to address the affordable housing crisis. By further reducing barriers to ADU approval and construction, this legislation will help add tens of thousands of new units to California's housing stock." The California Association of Realtors notes that the bill 'will help alleviate our housing shortage while capitalizing on limited land resources."
Arguments in Opposition of AB-68:
According to the Cities Association of Santa Clara County,
"AB 68 would prohibit a local jurisdiction from requiring a property owner live in the main house or one of the accessory structures. This would incentivize operating the property as a commercial enterprise and could have the unintended effect of large-scale investors purchasing many single-family homes and adding ADUs, thus operating more like a property management company, not a homeowner seeking some additional income. When a garage, carport, or covered parking structure is demolished or converted into an ADU, AB-68 would prohibit a city from requiring replacement parking. This would only exacerbate existing parking conflicts because cities are currently prohibited from imposing parking requirements on new ADUs if they are within one-half mile of transit." "
If you agree that our representatives (Governor Newsom, Senator McGuire, and Assemblymember Levine) made a mistake when approving AB-68, then please contact them and tell them you are extremely disappointed:
Call Gov. Gavin Newsom during office hours only, at: (916) 445-2841
Email Gov. Gavin Newsom: https://govapps.gov.ca.gov/gov40mail/
Call Senator Mike McGuire at: (916) 651-4002
Email Senator Mike Mcguire: email@example.com
Call Assemblymember Marc Levine: (916) 319-2010
Email Assemblymember Marc Levine: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please click HERE to read an article from the Office of the Governor and learn about all the housing bills that Governor Gavin Newsom recently signed.