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Guest Opinion | Mayor Victor Gordo, SGVCOG President Becky Shevlin: OPPOSE: SB 9, Increased Density in Single-Family Zones

Published on Friday, July 30, 2021 | 6:36 am

Dear Assembly Members Holden, Friedman, Rubio, Chau, Rodriguez, Chen, Calderon and Garcia,

We, the undersigned representatives of cities in the San Gabriel Valley, write in firm opposition to Senate Bill 9 (Atkins), which would end single-family residential zoning in every community in California. SB 9 would result in a quadrupling of the allowable density in long-established residential neighborhoods, driving 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. We urge your “no” vote on SB 9.

SB 9 would require cities and counties, without public hearing or discretionary conditions, to approve a duplex containing two full-sized residential units on an individual lot in single-family zones. Cities would also be forced to automatically approve lot splits of individual parcels, creating two independent lots that could be sold separately, and resulting in up to four units being built where one home now stands. SB 9 would effectively abolish backyards by allowing rear setbacks of no more than four feet, depriving children of a safe place to play and residential neighborhoods of green space, privacy, light and fresh air. Increased residential density could result in unplanned and unsustainable impacts on local public safety, schools, parks, traffic, parking, sewers, drinking water, energy grids, and other vital neighborhood services and infrastructure.

Our cities are committed to being part of the solution to the critical housing shortage in California. Through the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments (SGVCOG), we are supporting Senate Bill 15 (Portantino) to provide incentives to convert vacant commercial properties into affordable housing. San Gabriel Valley cities and the SGVCOG have also established the new San Gabriel Valley Regional Housing Trust which is making significant progress in financing affordable housing developments in multiple San Gabriel Valley cities. By forcing greater density on single-family neighborhoods without any accompanying state funding to support affordable housing, SB 9 is the wrong remedy for our housing shortage. SB 9 will undermine local input, flexibility and decision-making and has fostered strong community opposition that could imperil the deliberate and essential consensus-building needed for affordable housing developments to be welcomed in communities.

We appreciate your attention to this matter and your leadership in Sacramento on behalf of our cities. Questions regarding this letter may be addressed to SGVCOG Government and Community Relations Director Paul Hubler at


Becky Shevlin, President
SGV Council of Governments
Councilmember, City of Monrovia

Victor Gordo
Mayor, Pasadena

Sho Tay
Mayor, City of Arcadia

Karen Lee
Mayor, City of Alhambra

Karen Davis
Mayor, City of Glendora

Albert F. Ambriz
Councilmember, City of Irwindalle

Tom Adams
Mayor, City of Monrovia

Diana Mahmud
Mayor, City of South Pasadena

Robert Gonzales
Mayor, City of Azusa

Nancy Lyons
Mayor, Diamond Bar

Kimberly Ann Cobos-Cawthorne
Mayor, City of Montebello

Emmett Badar
Mayor, City of San Dimas

Jennifer Stark
Mayor, City of Claremont

Cory Moss
Mayor, City of Industry

Michael Davitt
Mayor, City of La Canada-Flintridge

Tim Hepburn
Mayor, City of La Verne

Tim Sandoval
Mayor, City of Pomona

Chin Ho Liao
Mayor, City of San Gabriel

Gloria Olmos
Mayor, City of South El Monte

Ed Reece
Councilmember, City of Claremont

Vincent Yu
Mayor, City of Temple City

Ken Ude
Mayor, City of San Marino

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2 thoughts on “Guest Opinion | Mayor Victor Gordo, SGVCOG President Becky Shevlin: OPPOSE: SB 9, Increased Density in Single-Family Zones

  • The provocative statements presented by this “opinion” are exactly the type of fear-mongering that has gotten us into the current sad state of housing. Studies have repeatedly shown bills like SB9 will not result in a widespread loss of single-family parcels like this sort of reckless and unsubstantiated position claim – many thoughtful, solution-driven cities in California (and other states) have proven this. Glad to hear you are, “…committed to being part of the solution…” Sadly, all you have done thus far is complain. NYMBYism needs to stop. Our suffering and un-housed need real solutions. It’s time to move away from the exclusionary zoning and racism of the past.

  • It is sad, but not surprising, to see so many mayors pandering to the NIMBYs in our midst. This vocal minority of alarmists forever prophesize the end of single family housing while ignoring the increasingly unaffordable housing crisis happening right now. Of course, they are seeking to put their privilege ahead of the continued viability of our cities.

    The best way to avoid the state intervening to restore sanity would be for our cities to take a strong role in increasing our housing stock, including improving density and incentivizing infill. Instead, by making common cause with the NIMBYs who sabotage every effort to solve the housing crisis, these signatories instead invite the inevitable reckoning of bills like SB9.




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