This story was originally printed in the Daily Post on May 28. To avoid missing important local news stories, pick up the Post in the mornings at 1,000 Mid-Peninsula locations.
BY EMILY MIBACH
Daily Post Staff Writer
A housing bill that would allow four homes to replace a single-family residence has moved forward in the state Legislature, with Peninsula state Sen. Josh Becker supporting the measure.
Senate Bill 9 went May 26 from the state Senate to the Assembly, which will likely further amend the divisive bill. Becker, D-Menlo Park, Clerkwas among the 28 “aye” votes for the bill.
“We all want to make sure our community is a place where our children can stay and thrive,” Becker said. “This is the bill, and I’ve been trying to help move it in the direction, that we get closer to that goal.”
SB9, proposed by Sen. Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, would allow the owner of a single-family home to build a second home or a duplex on their lot with only ministerial approval from the city. Ministerial approval, also known as “by right” approval, means that the city must approve the proposal if it meets a set of fixed standards. SB9 would also allow, with ministerial approval, a single-family lot to be split into two lots of roughly the same size.
Not everyone is a fan of the bill, with cities such as Palo Alto, Los Altos and San Carlos sending letters of opposition to Sacramento over the bill.
Other opponents include Foster City, Belmont, Half Moon Bay, Saratoga, Santa Clara and Sunnyvale, Palo Alto’s College Terrace Residents Association, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, the League of California Cities, Liveable California, Los Altos Residents and the South Bay Cities Council of Governments.
The League of California Cities in a letter opposing the bill says SB9 will not create housing “in a manner that supports local flexibility, decision making, and community input. State-driven ministerial or by-right housing approval processes fail to recognize the extensive public engagement associated with developing and adopting zoning ordinances and housing elements.”
Becker added he thinks both proponents and opponents have exaggerated what the bill will do. But he said he understands that some are worried the bill will dramatically affect neighborhoods or property values. He added part of the reason he is comfortable with the bill is because of amendments recently made that require owner occupancy of one of the units to ensure developers are not trying to maximize profit off of this bill.
Among those in support are the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, California YIMBY, the AARP, the city of Oakland, Councilman Zach Hilton of Gilroy, Facebook, MidPen Housing Corp., Mountain View YIMBY, Sand Hill Property Company, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group and Silicon Valley@Home.
“At a time when many Californians are experiencing economic insecurity caused by the pandemic, this bill will provide more options for families to maintain and build intergenerational wealth – a currency we know is crucial to combatting inequity and creating social mobility. SB9 provides flexibility for multigenerational housing by allowing homeowners to build a modest unit on their property so that their aging parent or adult child can have an affordable place to live,” according to Atkins.
Becker said SB9 is one of the bills that his office has received the most calls on. However, his office is also getting numerous calls on another housing bill, SB10, which the Senate is yet to vote on. Becker wouldn’t say how he plans on voting on that bill but did say he has some concerns about it.
SB10 would allow a local government to zone any parcel for up to 10 units of housing without needing an environmental review if the parcel is in what’s considered a transit-rich area, a jobs-rich area, or an urban infill site. Adopting such zoning would be a voluntary move for cities.
The bill would give city councils the authority to override voter-approved land-use initiatives in zoning parcels for 10 units.