After deliberating on whether to support or oppose two controversial housing bills, the South San Francisco City Council decided to oppose Senate Bill 9 unless it is amended and no vote was taken for Senate Bill 10.
Senate bills 9 and 10, would allow homeowners to turn single-family homes into duplexes with a potential of splitting a lot into two and upzone any parcel for up to 10 units, respectively.
“SB 9 and SB 10 will not be resolving the issue of housing,” Councilmember Buenaflor Nicolas said at the council’s July 27 meeting. “The housing issue that we have right now has been a problem for many decades and this is mostly due to multiple factors, lack of construction to match rapid employment growth, high cost of land, labor and materials, long and costly process to review and approve adequate financial resources. And definitely there is no magic bullet to solve these problems, what we need is a comprehensive approach.”
Senate Bill 9 is called the California Housing Opportunity and More Efficiency Act. The bill adds by-right density to all single family zoning districts throughout the state, and is authored by Senate President Toni Atkins, D-San Diego. It provides options for homeowners by streamlining the process for to create a duplex or subdivide an existing lot.
“Building off the successes of the ADU law, SB 9 strikes an appropriate balance between respecting local control and creating an environment and opportunity for neighborhood housing that benefits the broader community,” said Niccolo De Luca, Townsend Public Affairs, who spoke in favor of the legislation.
It requires cities to ministerially approve two units or two units subdivision on any parcel zoned for single-family residential that is within an urbanized area and not located in a hazard zone for fires, earthquakes or floods and not located in a historical district. Senate Bill 9 does not mandate that the units built are affordable deed-restricted.
Senate Bill 10, authored by state Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, authorizes an ordinance not subject to the California Environmental Quality Act to upzone any parcel for up to 10 units of residential construction in a transit rich area, within a half mile from transit, or an urban infill site. It is optional for cities to choose to do this or not.
Many members of the public said that these bills could not solve the problem of affordability for housing.
“I own a home in Avalon Park. I worked my rear end off in oil refinery seven days a week, 12 hours a day to get that home. And I feel that this bill is a sellout to families who own these homes and operate these homes,” said Mike Sutter, a resident of South San Francisco for 40 years. “This is clearly just a corporate interest bill that ultimately will not benefit any families. As stated, we’re not in the middle of a housing crisis. This is an affordability crisis.”
The median home price for a single-family home is $1.3 million and for duplexes, it is $1.1 million in South San Francisco. And to afford the median home price, the household income would need to be about $260,000, said Nell Selander, deputy director for the city’s Economic and Community Development Department.
“I don’t think just passing SB 9 would be the answer to the housing crisis,” Councilmember James Coleman said. “It is an affordability crisis that so many of us have mentioned today. I think it is an issue that requires several approaches. One could be looking at the vacancies that are existing in our city, especially in some of the larger developments.”
Following some of the League of California Cities’ amendments, South City included the amendments to have an affordability requirement, allow cities to determine a range of lot sizes suitable for Senate Bill 9 projects, allow local governments to consider local conditions such as hillsides, lot dimensions, natural hazards, available infrastructure when approving or denying housing project applications, and ensure that large scale investors and builders do not exploit the bill’s provisions and including more specificity on this last part.
“These types of amendments, this is something that allows the city to continue to exercise some control over the development,” Mayor Mark Addiego said. “I have great, great misgivings about the Senate Bill 9 and not being able to control, especially in the Old Town area where some of the rents tend to be a little less harsh.”
The City Council is sending a letter to the state Legislature with these amendments and will oppose Senate Bill 9 if it is not amended. Councilmember Nicolas made a motion opposing Senate Bill 10 and the vote died after it was not seconded.
Senate Bill 9 currently stands in the Assembly Appropriations Committee, and there has not yet been a date for a hearing. After the Assembly Appropriations Committee, the bill will go to the full Assembly floor. The state Legislature is on recess and will be coming back Aug. 16. The rest of the session this year will go from Aug. 16 and end Sept. 10.
Senate Bill 10 is currently on the Assembly floor for a final vote. Then after that, it goes to the Senate for concurrence.
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