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With more enforcement power than ever, state relies on activists to enforce the 'duplex law'

Original post made on May 3, 2022

Senate Bill 9 was expected to herald the end of single-family zoning. But four months in, little has changed.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, May 3, 2022, 9:35 AM

Comments (10)

Posted by JustAWorkingStiff
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on May 3, 2022 at 3:36 pm

JustAWorkingStiff is a registered user.

The highest density housing should be next to the Downtown Transit Hub
CalTrain can get you to BART
There are plenty of examples of very high density housing near BART stations

Instead, we limit the height of buildings downtown Mountain View
The first and last miles are the hardest for commuters

Instead in Mountain View, the strategy is to distribute increased density out into the neighborhoods
We have poor (relative to cities such like SF/Oakland/Berkley) public transport to feed the MV
Transit Hub. In addition, what will be needed to improved public transport and capacities of water/sewer/electricity to service high density neighborhoods?

Seems a bit backwards.
High density should be next to the Transit Hub, not out in the neighborhoods.

Posted by ivg
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on May 3, 2022 at 6:50 pm

ivg is a registered user.

I agree. Who wants to start a petition to upzone downtown?

Posted by LongResident
a resident of another community
on May 5, 2022 at 11:24 pm

LongResident is a registered user.

Pretty stupid argument. It doesn't rely on YIMBY factions to detect SB9 issues. Any land owner who is trying to do this and finds problems can simply complain to HCD. The only "unit" needed to detect this is a simple call center. They can claim they have no idea, but it would then be a case of them not answering the calls or not tabulating them.

Honestly, this CalMatters spin is truly absurd. If HCD is truly not listening, then that's on HCD.

What it likely means is that the demand so far from actual property owners has been very limited.

Posted by Leslie Bain
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 6, 2022 at 3:08 pm

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

"Honestly, this CalMatters spin is truly absurd ... What it likely means is that the demand so far from actual property owners has been very limited."

I am more cynical than you, @LongResident. I think that this "messaging" is primarily a ploy to generate continued pro-YIMBY sentiment (and to continue to scapegoat homeowners for being the primary cause of high housing costs). The reality is that the YIMBYs won last year! They wanted unpopular mandates SB9 and SB 10 signed into law, and state politicians gave them what they wanted! The TRUTH is now unfolding that these measures were FALSELY passed under a banner of "affordable housing", they were never going lower the rent for low-income or even average income workers. The real winners from these bills were the DEVELOPERS.

Now YIMBYs are cast as some kind of heroes, providing "scant enforcement" of the law that the state (who gave them these laws!) is unwilling to do? So a gullible public falsely believes that the laws were good ones, but are just not being "enforced"? Is a homeowner who does not split their lot some kind of law breaker now too? Outrageous. Love how state politicians go so quickly from being HEROES to ZEROES, though.

How many cities are actually "resisting" compliance? Kind of an important detail to leave out, eh? From the reporting, it looks like a small subset. Let it be known that the City of Mountain View is not one of them. We have "zoning" here, not "exclusionary zoning". I live across the street from duplexes already, I've happily done so for several decades. Down the street are apartments and condos!

SB9 and SB10 were "sold" under false pretences, and now their failure to provide affordable housing is being explained away. The pain of high housing costs is very real, it pains me to see persons trying to profit from the situation by providing false solutions.

Posted by LongResident
a resident of another community
on May 8, 2022 at 2:05 pm

LongResident is a registered user.

I don't disagree with Leslie. I just see two things going on. Calmatters is taken in by the mass hysteria which over emphasizes a housing shortage and distorts the crisis as going beyond housing for lower income people. We have a real issue where speculation and corporate growth have driven up housing prices. That's not due to a shortage, but it directly targets those at lower income levels. At the same time many programs which used to help lower income residents secure housing have eroded over the years. So that all goes to WHY the Calmatters piece is off the mark.

But then apart from that there is a lot of terrible logic in the Calmatters slant. First of all, we are only 4 months into SB9. It's really too early to tell what will happen. NO one has left anything to anyone yet. A new homes takes a couple of years to be constructed. We couldn't possibly see any effect of SB9. It never did make sense to expect SB9 to have much of an effect with regards to adding units to the supply. And then there's the idea of enforcement. How can you say YIMBY's are enforcing this? Really, have they had more success than state government has? They both look like equal nothings at this point. It's a civil matter and so up to the courts.

One thing about SB9 is that it has some misleading features. It appears that HCD and the rest of the state bureaucracy are holding that it affects building just one unit on a property. Now if you remodel an older home, so as to add square feet, you can use a side and rear setback of only 4 feet, regardless of how big is your parcel. This has nothing to do even with maximizing living space. SB9 is going to have more effect in this regard than in adding units or splitting lots.

Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 10, 2022 at 9:47 am

Steven Nelson is a registered user.

Why the 'conspiracy theories'? This seems pretty straight forward - as the CalMatters author is reporting.

New law, new process, starting to have some effects (proponents are collecting wide ranging data). Data on non-compliance with state law is getting reported to the state legal system.

Loud Opponents are not a majority. Very Very Loud (Los Altos, Pasadena) councilmembers/mayors are not sovereign government forces! (cities are creatures of the state - and subservient political units)

Posted by Leslie Bain
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 10, 2022 at 10:28 pm

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

@Steven, not sure why you throw out words 'conspiracy theories'. The author asserts that

1) "The passage of 2021's Senate Bill 9 was supposed to herald the end of the single-family zoning that many point to as a culprit of California's housing crisis."

True. Those in favor of SB9 blame SF zoning as a primary culprit of high housing prices. SB9 whacked the heck out of SF zoning. If SF zoning was in fact actually responsible for high housing prices, high housing prices should be tumbling down, shouldn't they?

But prices haven't gone down, they have actually reached historic heights: Web Link

Is it possible that those pushing SB9 were wrong? Is it possible that something other than SF zoning is primarily responsible for high housing prices in the Bay Area?

Many people think that an abundance of high-paying jobs, not zoning, is primarily responsible for high housing costs around these parts. Is it possible that these people are correct?

2) "But four months into the new era, little has changed,"

IMHO this could be true. IMHO expecting dramatic change within 4 months is a tad optimistic. I guess the author's expectations were different than mine, they seem very disappointed.

3) "and the scant enforcement of the law has come about largely because of pro-housing activists."

I find this sentence to be HIGHLY loaded. The author seems to imply that "little has changed" because there has been "scant enforcement of the law". I don't find that to be "straight forward" reporting, I find it to be biased reporting to favor YIMBYs.

Clue 1: phrase "scant enforcement" of the law. MOST cities appear to be in complance.

Clue 2: phrase "pro-housing activists". A more honest label is "pro-density, pro-developer activists". SB9 is not about increasing housing for low-income persons, it is about decreasing obstacles for developers to create expensive, market-rate housing which maximizes ROI.

Posted by LongResident
a resident of another community
on May 10, 2022 at 11:25 pm

LongResident is a registered user.

I'd say the conspiracy theorist is the author of the Calmatters piece. It reads an awful lot into a brief period of SB9 being in effect. The article specifically tries to say that so called housing activists are the main prong of enforcement. I don't see grounds to make this conclusion.

Posted by Leslie Bain
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 11, 2022 at 11:38 am

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

I agree, @LongResident. And the word "enforcement" strikes me as highly odd as well. As if a large number of homeowners are desperate to split their lots, and evil city councils are doing their utmost to stand in their way.

From the (vague) reporting, the vast majority of towns appear to be in compliance. And as you said, "Any land owner who is trying to do this and finds problems can simply complain to HCD. The only "unit" needed to detect this is a simple call center."

Posted by Momandpoplandlord
a resident of Waverly Park
on May 13, 2022 at 3:14 pm

Momandpoplandlord is a registered user.

Anecdote here: I’ll be a ‘beneficiary’ of SB9. New house being built next to mine, with some kind of second structure right on top of our lot line (4 ft setback!). Time will tell if there are two families living next door, but I can almost reach over the fence and touch the house. Not really what I signed up for when I moved here.

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