Dozens of California cities pass ordinances limiting SB9

Mayor Bill Brand (LinkedIn, iStock)

It turns out that the cougars are the least.

Citing everything from shadows to shrubbery, more than 30 California cities are stepping up to water down a state-mandated attempt to create more housing, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. Such measures made national headlines after the affluent Silicon Valley suburb of Woodside tried — and failed — to stave off Senate Bill 9 by claiming to be a habitat for grown-ups. felines.

Housing advocacy group YIMBY Law has counted at least three dozen communities that have passed or are considering passing ordinances that would limit SB9, the newspaper reported.

“Some cities just take it too far,” said Rafa Sonnenfeld, director of legal advocacy at YIMBY Law. “Too many standards is death by 1,000 cuts and it really is harder for this law to be used to create more affordable housing.”

SB9 is intended to increase density in single-family areas across California, a response to the state’s depleted housing stock. UC Berkeley’s Terner Center estimated that SB9 would add 700,000 housing units to the current development potential of 1.8 million, an increase of 40%. California now adds about 100,000 units per year.

Municipalities aren’t just working on their own — a proposed ballot initiative is making the rounds to restore control over land use in cities. Among those leading the initiative is Redondo Beach Mayor Bill Brand, who opposed the legislation. Brand says this will allow hedge funds to buy single-family homes and turn them into multi-unit investment properties.

“It’s much bigger than Woodside or any other specific city’s approach to complying with SB9,” he said. “This is none other than the biggest upzoning story in state history, and here comes Wall Street.”

Among the efforts: Cupertino, Silicon Valley, passed an ordinance that would prevent homeowners from building new units if they shaded more than 10% of a neighbor’s solar panel array — and required them to hire a licensed engineer to measure its size.

Los Altos Hills, Santa Clara County limits new units to 800 square feet, the minimum allowed under SB9, while requiring new units to also have sprinklers and a hedge of evergreen shrubs along of the unit closest to the property line.

[SF Chronicle] —Gabriel Poblete

Bernard P. Love