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City Council Adopts SB9 Emergency Ordinance

Published on Monday, December 13, 2021 | 8:18 pm

The City Council on Monday successfully conducted the second reading on an emergency ordinance pertaining to the construction of multiple dwelling on single-family zoned parcels pursuant to SB 9.

According to the ordinance, SB 9 requires that local agencies must ministerially approve certain subdivisions of one single-family residential lot into two without discretionary review, and requires a local agency to ministerially approve a proposed two-unit development project on a lot in a single-family residential zone without discretionary review.

Critics claim the bill will lead to the destruction of single family housing.

Supporters of SB9 claim it will help solve the state’s growing housing crisis. However, there is nothing in the ordinance advancing affordable housing.

Although most of the housing built would be accessory dwelling units (ADU) which would rent far below the market value associated for apartments, but according to study most people who build ADUs build them for family members to live in.

“The intent is to make sure there are no more than four units on any one lot,” said Planning Director David Reyes.

Local residents overwhelmingly supported the emergency ordinance.

Last Monday, there were 43 letters supporting the emergency ordinance and one letter supporting SB 9.

Critics claim that SB 9 will heavily impact Black and Brown communities.

Since it is an emergency ordinance, a threat to health and safety, and welfare had to first be acknowledged.

Councilmembers expressed concerns about aggressive language in the ordinance and worried it could hurt chances to reclaim the 710 stub from the state.

In order to combat SB 9, several neighborhoods are now seeking landmark status, including the Madison Heights Neighborhood Association.

“We began the effort to protect the historic architecture and character that makes Madison Heights so unique several years ago. SB 9 has added some urgency, since starting in four weeks it will allow developers to tear down historic homes, split lots, and put up 4 new units within 4 feet of side/rear property lines,” the group wrote in an email blast to its members.

“To be clear: SB 9 has no affordable housing provision,” the group wrote. but even if it did, a Landmark District is about the importance of preserving history and artistry.

The writers of SB 9 recognized the civic and cultural value in preserving beautiful historic architecture and neighborhoods, and thus included an exemption for Landmark Districts (and other designated historic landmarks).

However, unlike local rules, those neighborhoods will receive no protections unless the process designating them landmarks is complete.

On Aug. 21, the city submitted its own letter opposing the bill.

“Pasadena is acutely aware of the statewide housing crisis, and acknowledges that significant steps must be taken to address housing affordability. However, the provisions of SB 9 are likely to undermine the many efforts that Pasadena and other like-minded progressive cities have undertaken in recent years to increase housing supply near transit as part of a more holistic community planning strategy, while maintaining the unique character of our established neighborhoods.”

The letter also noted that the legislation was “being undertaken without serious study or consideration of the potential impacts related to traffic, greenhouse gas emissions, air quality, and other environmental factors.”

In the letter, the city did not seek to undermine the entirety of SB 9 and its goals, but rather requested that the Legislature “consider accommodations or exemptions for good actors like Pasadena that would allow us to achieve the same worthy goals of this bill in a manner that is rooted in community participation and thoughtful planning principles.”

“The interim ordinance protects, within the bounds allowed by Senate Bill 9, the erosion by the State Legislature of the City of Pasadena’s many efforts in recent years to increase housing supply as part of a more holistic community planning strategy, while maintaining the unique character of its established neighborhoods,” according to a fact sheet contained in Monday’s agenda.

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