First published in the Sept. 16 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.
The San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments announced that the mayors of 27 cities — including that of La Cañada Flintridge — in the San Gabriel Valley signed a letter urging Gov. Gavin Newsom to veto a bill approved by the state legislature that would allow lots zones for single-family homes to have up to four units.
Senate Bill 9 was introduced by state Sen. Toni Atkins of San Diego. The bill would allow the lots to subdivide into two, with each having a two-unit building, essentially allowing two duplexes on properties that initially were only allowed to have single-family homes. Atkins has called it a “gentle density increase that respects the character of the neighborhoods,” but local governments in Los Angeles County, including the L.A. City Council, oppose the bill.
“Senate Bill 9 will drive real estate speculators to purchase homes in order to split parcels, build duplexes on each lot and secure rental income streams — at the expense of the quality of life of our residents,” said the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments President Becky Shevlin, who also serves on the Monrovia City Council.
“Quadrupling the number of units on a parcel will deprive children of backyards where they can play, devastate our urban tree canopy and reduce privacy, light and air for residents,” Shevlin said.
SGVCG advocates for addressing the affordable housing shortage by rezoning vacant and nonviable commercial properties and providing incentives to affordable housing developers to build on that land.
SGVCG’s letter in opposition to the bill was signed by officials in the cities of Alhambra, Arcadia, Azusa, Baldwin Park, Bradbury, Claremont, Diamond Bar, Duarte, Glendora, Industry, Irwindale, La Cañada Flintridge, La Verne, Monrovia, Montebello, Monterey Park, Pasadena, Pomona, San Dimas, San Gabriel, San Marino, Sierra Madre, South El Monte, South Pasadena, Temple City, Walnut and West Covina.
While some housing advocates opposed the bill for not including requirements for affordable housing, others, like the Terner Center for Housing Innovation at UC Berkeley, support the measure for its potential to increase the number of homes in California. The Terner Center’s analysis of the bill found that it could create 714,000 new units statewide, including 127,000 in Los Angeles.
Housing Is A Human Right, which is a division of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, came out in opposition to the bill, saying it would increase gentrification and benefit real estate interests.
“We know that [the bill] will cause developers to target our low-income Black and brown communities … there is no requirement for affordable housing or homeless housing, and given that we have 161,000 people who are homeless in the state of California, more than 60,000 in the county and more than 40,000 in the city, it is absolutely unconscionable to have a housing production bill that would not provide for our homeless community or for people who desperately need affordable housing,” Susie Shannon, policy director for Housing Is A Human Right, told the Los Angeles City Council.