Wed, Jul

Do The Math - SB9 + SB10 Equals More Unaffordable Homes


HOUSING WATCH - For as long as California has been a state, local governments have decided where housing will and won’t go and how much to allow. 

Last year, despite opposition from multiple interests around the state, after rejection after rejection of similar bills over the years, SB 9 and SB10 were ramrodded through the California legislature by Scott Weiner and President pro tempore Toni Atkins. 

The supporters of these bills argued they would alleviate the housing crisis in California by rezoning single family properties to allow multiple units and allowing developers to thumb their noses at CEQA requirements. 

The Los Angeles City Council opposed Senate Bills 9 and 10 but Governor Gavin signed these into law last September and eviscerated most neighborhoods’ ability to stand up against the overwhelming power of developers. 

Turning local planning decisions over to developers does not mean more affordable housing, it means more profit for developers. 

With the relaxing of existing regulations, they are free not to create the affordable housing Los Angeles desperately needs but to further drive up the value of property in the City by purchasing single family lots, already out of reach of many Angelenos, and replacing one home with three or four units, destroying trees, paving over lawns and increasing demands on our already fragile infrastructure. 

Other waivers include removal of requirements for new parking spaces, schools, along with ways to disregard preservation of historical elements and the environment – why let a little health or history stand in the way of developer profit? 

It is not market-rate housing Los Angeles needs, but housing that is AFFORDABLE to those who need it. There is actually a GLUT of housing in Southern California – over 80 thousand units in Los Angeles, far more than the number of homeless, but at a price most working people cannot afford, whether buying or renting. 

In the current real estate market, most market-rate housing just COSTS too much – even housing built with HHH funds runs half a million dollars or more per unit – so new market-rate construction is inevitably targeted only to the wealthy and sold to banks, REITS, and real estate trusts as investments i.e. extremely profitable to everyone EXCEPT people looking for a place to live. 

Those who pushed these bills through clearly don’t anticipate the consequences will affect their own neighborhoods. YIMBY is fine and dandy if it only affects people living far, far away. 

Preferably black or brown or multi-racial and in a distinct in which they don’t have to worry about losing. 

I challenge Newsom, Atkins and Weiner to permit multi-unit dwellings on properties adjacent to where they live and answer to THEIR neighbors about the construction noise and dirt, the utility interruptions, the infrastructure failures BEFORE they foist it on the rest of us. 

I have lived in northeastern Los Angeles for the past 30+ years and am in complete support of Bill Brand, one of the authors of the proposed initiative, when he says: “The one-size-fits-all approach coming from Sacramento will be disastrous for our State. Not only does it ignore the specific needs, challenges and diversity of the 58 counties and 482 cities in California, it ends single-family zoning in the entire state in one fell swoop. We must do what’s best for California, not what’s most profitable for developers.” 

Why build more unaffordable housing? 

Why subsidize the construction of units those in need cannot afford? 

Because Scott Weiner’s election campaigns are heavily funded by developers? 

Because Toni Atkins’ wife is a consultant for real estate developers? 


California is an incredibly diverse state and all these different areas face differing challenges related to their history, culture, topography and infrastructure. 

It is absolutely ludicrous for a handful of people in Sacramento whose ears are constantly being twisted by real estate interests to believe they can prescribe zoning and land-use solutions for every community in the State. 

We who live in our towns and cities and understand our needs are FAR MORE QUALIFIED

Allowing developer interests to leverage the tragedy of homelessness around California for their own profit is despicable. 

And allowing real estate investors and the Wall-Street profiteers to take advantage of this circus claiming to be a bill to house those who cannot afford homes not only further exacerbates the situation but rips apart communities that have lived in neighborhoods for generations. 


We have market-rate housing standing empty, we have commercial buildings unused since the start of the pandemic that may never be tenanted again and could be converted, we have a lot of things but our governments lack the political will to make and enforce decisions that might turn any of their current supporters against them. 

Please, PLEASE support this initiative to prioritize the needs and wishes of ALL Californians, not just the profiteering real estate cabal and their bought politicians.

Initiative 21-0016 would provide allow local land-use and zoning laws to override conflicting state laws. Nothing more. 

Put land use and zoning decisions back in the hands of the people living in the area and take the power to uproot our neighborhoods away from Sacramento politicians who have very different perspectives. Those politicians can put what works from these bills into practice in their home towns without foisting a one-size fits all approach – one that clearly will not help many of us – on the rest of the state. 

To ensure this initiative gets on the ballot, proponents need 1 million valid voter signatures by the end of April so they can be validated. Given the complexity of achieving anything in the pandemic age, they will need to engage a professional signature collection company to give yo, me, everyone a fighting chance to return land use control to local jurisdictions. 

As of this writing, the Secretary of State has not moved into the internet age so you will need to find a time and a place to go and sign so original signatures can be sent by snail mail. Let’s hope the good folks at Our Neighborhood Voices can use their website to help facilitate getting those signatures on approved paper and submitted. 

If you want to donate, your support will be greatly appreciated. 

And e-mail all your friends, family and even your enemies to join you.


(Liz Amsden is an activist from Northeast Los Angeles with opinions on much of what goes on in our lives. She has written extensively on the City's budget and services as well as her many other interests and passions. In her real life she works on budgets for film and television where fiction can rarely be as strange as the truth of living in today's world.) 


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