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Call Legislators On Housing Bills To Save Single-Family Neighborhoods & Quality Of Life

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Depiction of what could happen to Single Family Neighborhoods if Senate Bill 9 passes.

Please contact State Legislators and urge them to oppose detrimental high-density housing bills and support beneficial housing bills ASAP in order to save single-family neighborhoods and preserve Marin's and California’s quality of life! In addition, please share this article via email and social media.

**Scroll down for "TAKE ACTION" recommendations. Scroll further down for "DESCRIPTIONS" of the bills.

Last year, numerous flawed housing bills failed to reach the governor’s desk. Many of those bills have been reintroduced this year, along with a slew of new proposals.

Together, the detrimental housing bills continue the misguided trend of:

Moreover, the bills do little if anything to increase the supply of affordable housing.

There are a few beneficial housing bills too. These protect high or very high fire hazard zones, improve local control of setbacks, and provide funding for affordable housing.

Below is the schedule for important housing bills, which will be voted on by the Senate Housing Committee and the Assembly Committee on Housing and Community Development over the next two weeks. There are other housing bills being heard by other policy committees over the next 2 weeks too, but this communication is concentrating on the schedule of the Senate and Assembly housing committees.

Schedule:

TAKE ACTION!

1. When possible, please submit Letters via the CA Legislature Position Letter Portal":

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The position letter deadline for submitting letters via the "CA Legislature Position Letter Portal" re: bills that will be heard on April 15th, was April 9th and has already passed. In order to advocate for or against these bills, you must contact the legislators directly at their offices.

The position letter deadline for submitting letters via the "CA Legislature Position Letter Portal" re: bills that will be heard on April 29th, must be submitted by April 23rd. You still have time to submit position letters via the portal for these bills.

Link to the "CA legislature Position Letter Portal": https://calegislation.lc.ca.gov/Advocates/

For ideas on what to write, please scroll down to descriptions of each of the above listed bills. There are links to Sustainable TamAlmonte's position letters for each of the bills, which you can use as templates.

2. Please call & email Senators & Assembly Members in order to oppose detrimental housing bills and support beneficial housing bills:

Be sure to send emails to the Senators and Assembly Members via their Aides when possible. Calls can be made and emails can be sent to legislators' offices until a bill's hearing date. If they don't pick up, please leave a message with their answering service. There is no need to make multiple calls to the same legislator. When you speak to an aide or the answering service, let them know your viewpoints about all the bills during the same call.

Contact Information for Members of the CA Senate Housing Committee:

Contact Information for the State Assembly Committee on Housing and Community Development:

3. Please call and Zoom with your State Representatives:

Call and Zoom with your State representatives NOW. Yes, they’ll agree to Zoom with residents. Please call Marin's representatives and urge them to oppose detrimental housing bills and support beneficial housing bills too:

Marin's State Representatives:

4. Please call and email your local representatives:

Marin's Local Representatives:

5. Sample Script for Opposing Housing Bills:

“Hello. My name is ______. I’m calling to urge the Senator/ Assembly Member to vote “NO” on the following bills:_______ . This/These bill(s) adversely impact all Californians, are poor housing policy, and don’t address the need for truly affordable housing. Thank you.”

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DESCRIPTIONS OF THE ABOVE REFERENCED HOUSING BILLS

Below are descriptions of each of the above referenced housing bills. The bills are in order of the calendar date when they will be voted on.

OPPOSE SENATE BILL 9

ABOUT SENATE BILL 9 (ATKINS) "HOUSING DEVELOPMENT: APPROVALS":

Senate Bill 9 rezones by state statute virtually all parcels within single-family residential zones in California allowing for the creation of (when combined with state Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) law) up to 6 or 8 units, further authorizes urban parcel splits, without any local discretionary hearing or review, including compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), as follows:

Senate Bill 9 requires cities and counties to permit ministerially either or both of the following in single-family zones, as long as they meet specified conditions:

To use this bill, the subject parcel would need to be zoned for residential uses and in a single-family zoning district. Certain hazardous, protected parcels or currently occupied parcels could not take advantage of this bill. Projects could not result in the demolition of 25% or more of existing exterior walls unless the site has not been occupied by a tenant in the last three years; a parcel smaller than 1,200 square feet; nor provide short-term rentals. CEQA would not be required. Objective requirements may be applied, provided the requirements do not prohibit the project.

SB-9 would let developers buy up single-family lots as small as 2,400 sq. ft., subdivide each lot into two 1,200 sq. ft. lots and then build 2 homes on each lot. The result would be four homes, where there used to be only one. When combined with the State Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) law, the result could be up to six, or eight units. Rear and side setbacks for new construction are limited to 4 feet.

SB-9 allows a local government to adopt ordinances to implement its duplex and urban lot split provisions and provides that the adoption of such ordinances are not subject to CEQA.

SB-9 significantly lowers parking requirements and eliminates parking requirements in many areas.

SB-9 disclaims the state's responsibility for providing reimbursement by citing local governments’ authority to charge for the costs of implementing the bill's provisions

REASONS TO OPPOSE SENATE BILL 9:

**For more detailed information, please click HERE to read Sustainable TamAlmonte's letter re: Oppose SB-9.

Sample Script:

“Hello. My name is ______. I’m calling to urge the Senator to vote “NO” on SB-9 . This bill adversely impacts all Californians, is poor housing policy, and doesn’t address the need for truly affordable housing. Thank you.”

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SUPPORT-IF-AMENDED SENATE BILL 765

ABOUT SENATE BILL 765 (STERN) "ACCESSORY DWELLING UNITS : SETBACKS":

New Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) legislation was enacted in 2019 and went into effect in 2020. Before 2020, local governments could determine development standards (Eg. setbacks, parking requirements, height, etc.), Floor Area Ratios (FAR), and lot coverage for Accessory Dwelling Units. However, the new ADU law took away almost all local control of ADUs, which, as proven in prior communications, has been not only detrimental but perilous. SB-765 seeks to improve local control of setbacks.

To understand the perils of the new ADU law, please click HERE to read Sharon Rushton's article entitled; "Protect Neighborhoods in High Fire Zones from Marin County's Proposed Second Unit Regulations". (The County's regulations incorporate the new ADU legislation.)

The recently enacted ADU legislation prohibits a local agency’s accessory dwelling unit ordinance from imposing a setback requirement of more than 4 feet from the side and rear lot lines for an accessory dwelling unit that is not converted from an existing structure or a new structure constructed in the same location and to the same dimensions as an existing structure.

This bill would remove the above-described prohibition on a local agency’s accessory dwelling unit ordinance, and would instead provide that the rear and side yard setback requirements for accessory dwelling units may be set by the local agency. The bill would authorize an accessory dwelling unit applicant to submit a request to the local agency for an alternative rear and side yard setback requirement if the local agency’s setback requirements make the building of the accessory dwelling unit infeasible. The bill would prohibit any rear and side yard setback requirements established pursuant to these provisions from being greater than those in effect as of January 1, 2020. The bill would specify that if the local agency did not have an accessory dwelling unit ordinance as of January 1, 2020, the applicable rear and side yard setback requirement is 4 feet.

REASONS TO SUPPORT-IF-AMENDED SENATE BILL 765:

SB-765 is a big step in the right direction but should go further in allowing local governments to determine proper setbacks.

Property setbacks have many benefits both aesthetically and functionally. Setbacks help with:

Senate Bill 765 should be amended, so that the following provisions are eliminated: 1) The provision that prohibits any rear and side yard setback requirements from being greater than those in effect as of January 1, 2020; and 2) The provision that requires rear and side yard setbacks to be limited to 4 feet if the local agency did not have an accessory dwelling unit ordinance as of January 1, 2020.

**Please click HERE to read Sustainable TamAlmonte's letter re: Support-if-Amended SB-765

Sample Script:

“Hello. My name is ______. I’m calling to urge the Senator to "Support-if-Amended" SB-765. This bill is a step in the right direction but does not go far enough in allowing local governments to determine proper setbacks. Please ask the Senator to lobby for amendments to the bill that will eliminate the following provisions: 1) The provision that prohibits any rear and side yard setback requirements from being greater than those in effect as of January 1, 2020; and 2) The provision that requires rear and side yard setbacks to be limited to 4 feet if the local agency did not have an accessory dwelling unit ordinance as of January 1, 2020. Thank you."

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OPPOSE ASSEMBLY BILL 215

ABOUT AB-215 (CHIU) "PLANNING & ZONING: COMMERCIAL ZONING: HOUSING DEVELOPMENT":

Assembly Bill 215 further penalizes jurisdictions that don’t meet their Regional Housing Needs Allocations (RHNA). The bill requires cities/counties to undertake a mid-cycle housing element consultation to check the jurisdiction's progress toward fulfilling their housing quotas. Jurisdictions that fall behind must attain a "prohousing" designation by adopting housing policies that facilitate planning, approval or construction of housing, such as offering local financial incentives, lowering parking requirements, and streamlining the permit process with by-right approvals.

REASONS TO OPPOSE ASSEMBLY BILL 215:

Throughout California, the Regional Housing Needs Allocations (RHNA) for the 2023-2031 cycle are unprecedented, unrealistic, flawed and inflated.

Marin's total estimated housing allocation of over 14k units for the 2023-2031 RHNA cycle is over 6 times as large as that for the last 2015-2023 cycle, which was 2,298 units. For some individual jurisdictions, it's even worse. Unincorporated Marin’s new housing quota of 3,510 units is 20 times larger than that for the last RHNA cycle, which was 185 units.

During the last Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) cycle (2015-2023), over 400 of California’s 480 municipalities have not reached their RHNA targets. New laws require local jurisdictions to not only identify RHNA sites but, in addition, to ensure that new housing is actually constructed on the sites. Yet, local governments are not developers and cannot force private property owners to build housing units. Indeed, the Embarcadero Institute found that the shortage of housing resulted not from a failure by cities to issue housing permits, but rather a failure by the state to fund and support affordable housing.

Moreover, non-performance in a RHNA income category triggers a streamlined approval process per Senate Bill 35 (2017), which lessens local communities’ control over land use, environmental protections, and quality development.

By issuing such inflated 2023-2031 allocations without providing funds for affordable housing, the State and Regional Agencies are setting local governments up to fail again.

Rather than provide much-needed State funding, Assembly Bill 215 further penalizes jurisdictions that don’t meet their RHNA housing quotas. As mentioned, a jurisdiction, which fails to adequately progress toward meeting it’s RHNA target, must attain a “prohousing” designation by adopting housing policies that facilitate planning, approval, or construction of housing, such as lowering parking requirements, and streamlining the permit process with by-right approvals.

Such requirements continue the misguided trend to:

**Please click HERE to read Sustainable TamAlmonte's Letter re: Oppose AB-215.

Sample Script:

“Hello. My name is ______. I’m calling to urge the Assembly Member to vote “NO” on AB-215. This bill adversely impacts all Californians, is poor housing policy, and doesn’t address the need for truly affordable housing. Thank you.”

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OPPOSE ASSEMBLY BILL 721

ABOUT AB-721 (BLOOM) "COVENANTS & RESTRICTIONS: AFFORDABLE HOUSING":

Assembly Bill 721 would make any private recorded covenants, conditions, restrictions, or private limits on the use of private or publicly owned land contained in any deed, contract, security instrument, or other instrument affecting the transfer or sale that restricts the number or size of the residences that may be built on the property, or that restricts the number of persons who may reside on the property unenforceable against the owner of an affordable housing development, as defined.

REASONS TO OPPOSE ASSEMBLY BILL 721:

Assembly Bill 721 is poor policy and an example of legislators seeking to micro-manage local affairs and give control of land use to developers. Whereas such control should rightfully remain with local governments and communities.

There are many reasons why lowering the density, restricting the number of units, and limiting the number of residents are beneficial. These reasons include, but are not limited to, preserving public health and safety, the environment, neighborhood character, and quality of life, as well as avoiding significant adverse impacts. AB-721 would hinder this capability.

**Please click HERE to read Sustainable TamAlmonte's letter re: Oppose AB-721.

Sample Script:

“Hello. My name is ______. I’m calling to urge the Assembly Member to vote “NO” on AB-721. This bill adversely impacts all Californians, is poor housing policy, and doesn’t address the need for truly affordable housing. Thank you.”

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OPPOSE SENATE BILL 6

ABOUT SB-6 (CABALLERO) "LOCAL PLANNING: HOUSING: COMMERCIAL ZONES":

Senate Bill 6 enacts, until January 1, 2029, the “Neighborhood Homes Act,” which establishes a housing development project as an allowable use on a “neighborhood lot”, which is defined as a parcel within a commercial zone where office and retail uses are permitted, so long as the parcel is not adjacent to an industrial use. A housing development project on a neighborhood lot must comply with numerous requirements.

A housing development project may consist of entirely residential units or a mix of retail commercial, office, or residential uses, except that the project cannot include a hotel or other transient lodging and must devote at least 50% of the square footage of the project to residential uses. Additionally, the local agency must require that the rental of any unit is for a term longer than 30 days.

SB 6 allows housing developments on neighborhood lots to be eligible for SB 35’s streamlined ministerial approval process if it meets certain requirements. SB-35 requires cities/counties to fast-track residential and mixed-use projects that meet certain affordability, objective, and other standards. SB-35 exempts projects from environmental review in accordance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), reduces parking requirements

REASONS TO OPPOSE SENATE BILL 6:

It is true, in concept, that repurposing retail and office buildings for residential use can be beneficial. However, this should not be a State mandate. Such a change in the allowable use should only be determined by local governments, within the parameters of a traditional permit approval process (without streamlining), and include full CEQA review.

**For more detailed information, please click HERE to read Sustainable TamAlmonte's letter re: Oppose SB-6.

Sample Script:

“Hello. My name is ______. I’m calling to urge the Senator to vote “NO” on SB-6. This bill adversely impacts all Californians, is poor housing policy, and doesn’t address the need for truly affordable housing. Thank you.”

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OPPOSE SENATE BILL 8

ABOUT OPPOSE SB-8 (SKINNER) "HOUSING CRISIS ACT OF 2019":

Senate Bill 8 extends and expands the Housing Crisis Act (HCA) of 2019. SB-8 extends the sunset of the Housing Crisis Act of 2019 by five years, from January 1, 2025 to January 1, 2030. The Housing Crisis Act suspends certain local governments’ restrictions on development of new housing and expedites the permitting of housing. SB-8 further expands the reach of the Act to include single-family homes and takes away even more local planning decisions and capabilities.

What does the "Housing Crisis Act of 2019" do?

“The Housing Crisis Act of 2019” (HCA) was intended to reduce the time it takes to approve housing developments in California.

The HCA is complex and is bound to other laws including the Housing Density Bonus Law. The Act takes away significant authority from cities and counties, reducing their review and approval powers over developments that shape their communities. This shift is reinforced in three ways:

  1. Freezes the ability of local governments to downzone, adopt new development standards, or change land-use in residential and mixed-use areas if the change results in less-intensive uses;
  2. Allows developers to request approval of housing developments that exceed density and design controls of the underlying zoning, if the existing zoning is in conflict with the General Plan or a Specific Plan;
  3. Expedites the permitting process for housing development and limits the list of application materials that cities can review.

In addition, the Housing Crisis Act does the following:

What does Senate Bill 8 do?

SB-8 enlarges the reach of the Housing Crisis Act. It expands the definition of a “housing development project” to include both discretionary and ministerial projects, as well as projects to construct single family dwelling units. The bill further limits the number of appeals and public meetings that can be held related to density bonus law. SB-8 makes additional technical changes and clarifications to the Housing Crisis Act.

REASONS TO OPPOSE SENATE BILL 8:

The Housing Crisis Act of 2019 and Senate Bill 8 undermine the ability of local governments to manage land use planning decisions and govern responsibly. The measures do not result in providing more affordable housing, as claimed by the legislation's authors. Instead, they expedite the development process and increase poorly planned and designed development for the benefit of developers’ profitability. The Act and the proposed bill are fundamentally flawed. The Housing Crisis Act of 2019 should be repealed, rather than extended and expanded.

Senate Bill 8 should be opposed for the following reasons:

**For more detailed information, please click HERE to read Sustainable TamAlmonte's letter re: Oppose SB-8

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SUPPORT-IF-AMENDED SENATE BILL 12

ABOUT SENATE BILL 12 (MCGUIRE) "LOCAL GOVERNMENT: PLANNING: WILDFIRES":

Senate Bill 12 imposes certain fire hazard planning responsibilities on local governments and requires cities and counties to make specified findings on fire standards prior to permitting development in very high fire risk areas, which the bill defines to be the Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zones (VHFHSZ) in both the State Responsibility Areas (SRA) and the Local Responsibility Areas (LRA).

Planning requirements:

SB-12 imposes new planning requirements on local governments. SB-12 requires each city or county, upon the next revision of the housing element or local hazard mitigation plan on or after July 1, 2024, whichever occurs first, to review and update its safety element to include a comprehensive retrofit strategy that includes specified contents.

Wildfire risk reduction standards:

SB-12 prohibits cities and counties from approving any new residential ministerial or discretionary permits, discretionary entitlements, tentative subdivision or parcel maps, or development agreement in VHFHSZ unless the city or county finds that the project and all structures within the project are protected from wildfire risk in accordance with specified “wildfire risk reduction standards” contained in this bill, or standards adopted by a local jurisdiction that meet or exceed those standards.

Most Important - Regional housing needs allocation:

Beginning with the seventh cycle for revising local housing elements, SB-12 amends the regional housing needs allocation (RHNA) process to:

Other provisions:

SB-12 clarifies that local governments may impose more stringent standards than those set out in the bill, and clarifies that a local government may issue a final subdivision map without making the findings in the bill if the tentative map or parcel map met the required standards when it was deemed complete.

SB-12 also directs CALFIRE to distribute grant funds, upon appropriation by the Legislature, to provide assistance to small jurisdictions in updating planning documents and complying with other provisions of the bill, as specified.

SB-12 modifies the standards adopted by the Board under PRC 4290 to access from the perimeters to all residential, commercial, and industrial building construction, and requires the Board’s regulations to conform as nearly as practicable with the wildfire risk reduction standards adopted by the State Fire Marshal under the bill.

SB-12 makes other technical and conforming changes.

REASONS TO SUPPORT-IF-AMENDED SB-12:

Senate Bill 12 is a step in the right direction to protect high fire risk areas but needs to be amended. This is because the bill protects communities in "Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zones" (VHFHSZ) but it does not protect those in the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) or "High Fire Hazard Zones".

Many communities across the State are in the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) and High Fire Zones. These communities are extremely perilous and should be protected from more intense development too.

The Marin Community Wildfire Protection Plan states; “Homes and structures located anywhere in and around the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) are at a higher risk for exposure to wildland fire. Fire can spread rapidly throughout WUI areas through adjacent structures and/or vegetation, or by ember dispersion.” “Because of the mix and density of structure and natural fuels combined with limited access and egress routes, fire management becomes more complex in WUI environments. Many of the access roads within the WUI are narrow and winding and are often on hillsides with overgrown vegetation, making it even more difficult and costly to reduce fire hazards, fight wildfires, and protect homes and lives in these areas.”

If development is only restricted in "Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zones" (VHFHSZ), then, when cities and counties are updating their Housing Elements (AKA Housing Plans), they may designate even more housing density to areas in the dangerous Wildland Urban Interface or High Fire Hazard Zones, since housing in the VHFHSZ zones would be restricted or prohibited.

**Please click HERE to read Sustainable TamAlmonte's letter re: Support-If-Amended Senate Bill 12.

Sample Script:

"Hello. My name is ______. I’m calling to urge the Senator to "Support-if-Amended" SB-12. This bill is a step in the right direction but does not protect communities in the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) or High Fire Hazard Zones. Please ask the Senator to lobby for amendments to the bill, such that the WUI and high fire zones are protected to the same degree as Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zones. Thank you."

Thank you in advance for taking action. Together we can make a difference!

Tags

SB-6, SB-8, SB-9, SB-12, SB-765, AB-215, AB-721, high density housing, single-family zoning