The League of Women Voters’ stated mission is to inform and educate the electorate, yet it is misinformed in recommending support for State Senate Bills 9 and 10 (“LWV supports housing legislation,” Sept. 1).
• “Housing affordability.” Neither bill requires or provides for affordable housing. They benefit developers, real estate corporations and construction unions – the biggest donors to State Sen. Scott Wiener.
Allowing more homes on a lot raises the price of land, so individual homebuyers would compete with institutional investors buying entire neighborhoods at huge premiums. For them, affordable housing doesn’t “pencil out.”
• “Diversity, equity and inclusion.” Lynetta McElroy, a Black housing activist, strongly opposes these bills because they threaten her stable, middle-class Black community. Developers are already making offers on her home and those of her neighbors.
They would increase gentrification by razing old homes to build luxury and market-rate rentals.
Generational wealth is created through homeownership, not renting. Ask Councilwoman Cindy Montanez of San Fernando, a 93% Latino community where residents put their life savings into single-family homes to build equity for their families. Montanez scrutinized the bills to determine their impacts on her community: “SB 9 is not primarily written for homeowners. … Large investors, yes. Blackrock-like entities, yes. Rental giants, yes.” SB 9 streamlines approval of “lot splits as well as allowing two units on these newly created lots.”
With accessory dwelling units and junior accessory dwelling units, six or even eight units could be built on a lot where a single home once stood. SB 9 may have intended a maximum of four units on a split lot, but that is not explicitly stated. Most analysts agree at least six units are possible. The requirement that the owner live in one of the units has no teeth.
SB 9 and SB 10 override our California Constitution, which gives local government the right to “make and enforce all ordinances and regulations in respect to municipal affairs.” Both bills take away that right as it applies to planning and zoning.
SB 10 would allow local governments to override voter-approved initiatives, like those protecting our parkland, shorelines and open space. It would allow city councils to permit 10-unit apartment buildings in residential areas without public comment or environmental review.
These laws would apply throughout the state, in fire zones and in cities such as Fort Bragg and Healdsburg that are already running out of water.
Taxpayers would bear the cost of increased demand on schools and infrastructure: parks, water, sewers, power grids and public safety personnel.
McElroy said she is “sick of politicians trying to sell us a lie.” The League of Women Voters should be, too.
Educate yourself and get the facts. Then call Gov. Gavin Newsom and tell him to veto these two bad bills.
Pat Marriott is a Los Altos resident.