Regarding the July 17 guest perspective “SB 9: Bane of San Mateo County,” the author dismisses legitimate concerns about this reckless bill.
Wildfire risk does not vanish merely because one describes development as “urban infill.” Senate Bill 9’s expansive definition of urban includes the suburban area of Santa Rosa where the 2017 Tubbs Fire incinerated 3,000 homes. SB 9 would change zoning there to promote four homes per lot, with 4-foot setbacks. It is well known that closely-spaced housing is dangerous in wildfire risk areas, because of structure-to-structure fire spread and clogged escape routes. In high-risk areas, the National Fire Protection Association and Firewise USA call for 30-foot setbacks. SB 9 exempts high-risk areas for that reason — but only if they are in unincorporated state responsibility areas, not in cities and towns.
The author seems to think it obvious that the state needs 2.3 million new homes in the next eight years. California already suffers from catastrophic wildfire, rolling power blackouts, water rationing and road gridlock. With California’s average household size of three, building that many homes would add almost 7 million people, the equivalent of adding a new Los Angeles, San Diego and San Jose. Is that what California needs and its current residents want?
Los Altos Hills