Our View | California Attacks Suburbia

Our View

By The Signal Editorial Board

If you’re familiar with the concept of states’ rights — the idea that powers not constitutionally delegated to the federal government are yielded to the states — let us introduce you to another concept that should receive equal weight:

Local government rights.

Here in California, with a Democratic supermajority in the state Legislature that has an unquenchable thirst for power, local government rights are under attack.

Indeed, suburbia is under attack. 

You see, the supermajority in Sacramento likes things like multi-family housing, jamming as many people as possible into the smallest space possible, ostensibly to make housing more available and affordable.

The supermajority doesn’t like single-family homes in suburbs.

Available, affordable housing is a worthy goal. But so are preserving the rights of property owners and the rights of local governments — the cities and counties that comprise the state — to make their own decisions on the most appropriate uses of land within their jurisdictions, based on unique local circumstances.

Here’s where the attack is coming from: Two state bills -— one of which, Senate Bill 9, has been officially opposed by the Santa Clarita City Council — that would strip local governments of their rights to regulate local land use, and would tie local government’s hands if a property developer wants to fill your single-family neighborhood with multi-family housing.

Today at 10 a.m., an online town hall meeting is scheduled to inform the public about the potential impacts of SB 9 and SB 10. You can find the information on how to view this town hall at the end of this editorial. The bills are potentially up for consideration when the state Legislature reconvenes on Aug. 16.

Bea Dieringer, mayor of the city of Rolling Hills, sent out a notice of the town hall this week, along with a letter outlining the alarming impacts of these two pieces of legislation.

“Under SB 9, a developer could buy the home next door to you and build at least six separate housing units on a parcel that is zoned for one single-family residence, (which includes accessory dwelling units and junior accessory dwelling units),” Dierenger’s letter says. “Once SB 9 becomes law, you will lose your ability to block or change the developer’s plans to build these additional market-rate housing units next door to your home. As your representative, I will be unable to help you because SB 9 supersedes our local zoning laws that require only one single-family home per lot (plus one ADU & JADU, previously required by state laws).”

Regarding SB 10, Dierenger’s letter says “this bill would ‘allow’ cities to override their own zoning laws and zoning initiatives passed by their citizens to permit 10 separate housing units plus two accessory dwelling units and two junior accessory dwelling units (14 total) that can all be built on a lot previously zoned for one single-family residence. In its current version, SB10 is not ‘mandatory,’ as SB 9 is. However, once SB 10 is passed, the state could then pressure cities to use SB 10 to rezone their single-family neighborhoods or else face high state penalties.”

In other words, SB 9 and SB 10 would be a dictate from the state supermajority that, if someone wants to put an apartment complex next door to your single-family home — and another one on the other side, and more of them up and down your street — there’s NOTHING you or your city could do about it. 

Single-family housing is under attack.

Letting the scenario play itself out, it’s not a great leap to imagine family-friendly suburban neighborhoods  — places where kids have back yards to play in, and where property owners enjoy the fruits of their labor as they host a weekend barbecue — transforming into an inner-city vibe, with higher densities of population. 

That vibe is great if it’s what you want — young singles, for example, may find it appealing. But if you bought your single-family home — and took on the mortgage that comes with it — because you loved the neighborhood and the prospect of raising your kids there, and having your own “space” … 

Well, good luck to you.

SB 9 and SB 10 are a menace to suburban living and the quality of life in communities like Santa Clarita. If you are concerned about the potential impacts of these bills and would like more information, you can register for today’s online townhall Zoom session here: https://tinyurl.com/ytnxr64y. 

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