I was just recently made aware of California SB9 during a local rather vocal City Council/public comment meeting. The relevant topic on the Council’s agenda was whether to hire a consulting firm to evaluate whether all single family residence zoning in the entire City should be abolished so as to allow multiple unit building zoning anywhere and everywhere in the City. A multiple unit building could be newly constructed, or it could be an existing single family residence that is then converted into a multiple unit building in the middle of a community that had been zoned for single family residences.
Now, land use and zoning are not my areas of law. And I will also say that I learned some important things about City Council meetings, City Council members and their approaches to issues and risk management, and speakers from outside of the community – but maybe more about those in a different blog post.
Ultimately after the local community was more informed and vocal at the second meeting on the issue, the vote was postponed as it was discussed that the Legislature in Sacramento is looking at the same or a similar issue in SB9, which, it was explained, is expected to pass. Thus, in my view, there never was a reason to even put this issue on the local City Council agenda. Through SB9 the Legislature in Sacramento seeks to take control of and to change single family zoning throughout the State of California. Again, this isn’t my area of law, but I looked up SB9 anyway.
First, like a lot of legislation, much of the wording and many of the provisions in SB9 are vague, undefined, open-ended, or to be determined in the future by some other regulation, department, committee, commission, board, organization or later added additional legislation.
Equally, and perhaps more interesting, I found Section 4 near the end of the proposed statute that I was reading. I have pasted Section 4 below. I believe that all legislation should disclose the legal basis and authority upon which it is being proposed and enacted. But that doesn’t happen. I’m not representing that the Legislature does not have authority – I’m simply saying that upon what legal basis and authority should be disclosed. Thus, for example, in SB9 the Legislature in Sacramento “finds and declares that ensuring access to affordable housing is a matter of statewide concern and not a municipal affair as that term . . . is used in the California Constitution” and that “[t]herefore, [the Sections that are being enacted] apply to all cities, including charter cities.” You can read the wording below.
(1) I would ask, under what legal authority is the Legislature interpreting or changing the California Constitution?
(2) And, as “ensuring access to affordable housing is a statewide concern,” which is an entirely vague and undefined goal, I would bet that if SB9 is enacted the Legislature in Sacramento will regularly (e.g., possibly on a year in and year out basis) be looking to mandate new and additional housing and building zoning changes to be applied throughout the State on a statewide basis regardless of the differing facts and makeups of the local communities that are impacted. I would say, for example, housing in San Diego (and even San Diego should be broken down into local communities) is different than housing in Torrance, which is different than housing in Fresno (which also should be broken down into local communities), which is different than housing in Hillsborough, which is different than housing in Santa Rosa, which is different than housing in Elks Grove, which is different than housing in Chico or Redding, etc.
The following is SB9 Section 4:
The Legislature finds and declares that ensuring access to affordable housing is a matter of statewide concern and not a municipal affair as that term is used in Section 5 of Article XI of the California Constitution. Therefore, Sections 1 and 2 of this act adding Sections 65852.21 and 66411.7 to the Government Code and Section 3 of this act amending Section 66452.6 of the Government Code apply to all cities, including charter cities.
Best to you. David Tate, Esq. (and inactive CPA)
Remember, every case and situation is different. It is important to obtain and evaluate all of the evidence that is available, and to apply that evidence to the applicable standards and laws. You do need to consult with an attorney and other professionals about your particular situation. This post is not a solicitation for legal or other services inside of or outside of California, and, of course, this post only is a summary of information that changes from time to time, and does not apply to any particular situation or to your specific situation. So . . . you cannot rely on this post for your situation or as legal or other professional advice or representation.
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Best to you, David Tate, Esq. (and inactive California CPA) – practicing in California only
Litigation, Disputes, Mediator & Governance: Business, Trust/Probate, Real Property, Governance, Elder Abuse, Workplace, Investigations, Other Areas