Initiative to override housing bills won’t be on fall ballot

Daily Post Staff Writer

A group trying to get a measure on the November ballot to override state bills that take away local housing control has put off its attempt until 2024 after failing to get enough signatures, the group announced yesterday (Feb. 18).

The initiative needed 997,139 valid voter signatures by May to go on the November ballot.

Our Neighborhood Voices, the statewide group behind the push to get the issue on the ballot, didn’t say how many signatures they had, only that they would re-file in 2024 “to make qualification a certainty.”

The initiative was endorsed by local council members, including Los Altos Mayor Anita Enander and Councilwoman Lynette Lee Eng. Palo Alto Councilwoman Lydia Kou held signing events for it.

The attempt was in response to the state passing Senate Bill 9 and Senate Bill 10 last year to try and curb the housing crisis.

SB9 requires cities to let single-family property owners split their properties and build two homes on each lot. SB10 allows city councils to rezone a single-family lot with up to 10 housing units, even if local land-use restrictions prohibit it.

SB9 passed with the votes of state Sen. Josh Becker, D-Menlo Park, Assemblyman Marc Berman, D-Menlo Park, and Assemblyman Kevin Mullin, D-San Mateo. SB10 got “yes” votes from Berman and Mullin while Becker didn’t vote.

Both bills were opposed by city councils for taking away local control and potentially leading to undesirable developments in low-density, residential neighborhood.

The Our Neighborhood Voices initiative would’ve changed the law so “that city and county land-use and zoning laws (including local housing laws) override all conflicting state laws.”

It’s up to individual cities if they want to use SB10 to create denser housing, and the law hasn’t been used since it took effect.

SB9, however, is out of the cities hands if the property owner meets all of the requirements, like having a big enough lot and following certain design rules.

Local SB9 applications

There have only been a few SB9 applications so far.

In Palo Alto, developers Bill Wu and Asma Jafri are applying to split a one-acre property at 940 Matadero Ave. and build four homes.

In Los Altos, homeowner Hetal Pandya is using the law to replace her house without the city’s discretion.

Mountain View has received two applications for a lot split — from Lola Paz at 1012 W. Dana St.and Samir Sharma at 1184 Solana Drive — but they said they weren’t ready to share their plans.


  1. Bye bye Berman. Bye Bye Mullin. Funny how Atherton didn’t get any dense housing and no one got a stick of below market rate. California Association of Realtors greased the wheels and engagered species pay the price.

  2. The opponents to SB9 and 10 were naive in thinking that they could get all the signatures they needed by doing neighborhood events. They needed money to pay signature gatherers who stand outside of places like Costco getting signatures for $7 a name.

  3. It’s interesting how many people weren’t paying attention when these bills were moving through the legislature, and they could have done something to stop this. Only now are they waking up to what’s happened. People need to pay more attention to the news. It was in all of the local papers, but some people couldn’t bother keeping up with the news in their community.

  4. @Len Many people cannot afford newspapers even before they lost their job during the pandemic. The public libraries were closed. People were focused on Covid-19 news on how to avoid catching it. Many essential products have been out of stock, sold in limited quantities &/or difficult to obtain. You had to jump through hoops to get necessary medical care. Parents were trying to hold down jobs & teach their children who were at home. Many people were just trying to keep bread on their tables while Sacramento decided Homeowners should be seen but not heard.

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