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California mayors take a stance against proposed housing and zoning law

The proposed housing and zoning law, California Senate Bill 9 (SB-9), wishes to allow private contractors to construct multi-family dwelling units within a single-family residential zone with little to no local government interference. 

Mayor Patricia Lock Dawson has teamed up with mayors across the state to “oppose unless otherwise amend” SB-9. Lock Dawson believes Riverside citizens deserve ample and affordable housing, and it should not succeed the city’s authority to determine whether additional housing units could be accommodated in their communities or reconciled with other state policy objectives. 

“This proposed legislation will transform single-family residential areas in a way that is inconsistent with local planning and public input,” Lock Dawson said in an Instagram post

Passing the bill can affect the manufacturing of multi-family dwellings and can lead to increased residential capacity within a given area. 

The Southern California Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) is meant to use planning to prioritize local resource allocation and decide how to identify and address existing and future needs resulting from household growth. The growth implications presented in SB-9 make it difficult for the city of Riverside to properly prepare for such an uptick in population, making the necessary resource allocation to ensure optimal resident quality of life evermore challenging. 

Without proper resource allocation, everyday things, like parking, may become undersupplied. With the Housing Elements 2021-2029 deadline quickly approaching, it seems like SB-9’s premature approval may lead to long-term problems for cities across the state. 

The bill was originally proposed by Senator Toni Atkins in response to failed Senate Bill 1120, which had the same spirit as the newly proposed SB-9 bill. Toni Atkins, a strong believer of SB-9 being the law needed to combat the current housing crisis, took to social media to defend her bill. 

“[SB-9] will help homeowners who opt to use it. It would open up a new income stream, allow them to help elderly parents looking for a place to live, and help them create wealth to pass on to their kids. Homeowners happy with their single-family home can keep it that way,” Atkins said. 

SB-9 was designed to build a pipeline to homeownership for Californians and assist the homeowner who chooses to rent out their home while providing a new means of passive income. SB-9 also protects the rights of those homeowners who wish to not participate in such opportunities. Not all homes will be available for conversion, however. 

A recent UC Berkeley Terner Center study showed that only five percent of single-family lots would even be approved for development under SB-9, meaning the likelihood of your neighborhood being overrun with triplexes and apartment buildings is low. 

Within her social media post, Lock Dawson explained how housing affordability is directly linked to production and availability. The UC Berkeley study stated, “SB 9 unlocks new financing and homeownership opportunities. We also found that SB 9 will not lead to a significant demolition of existing housing stock, as nearly 97 percent of single family homes would be retained.”

With SB-9’s enactment, there would be more room for people to rent or purchase property at a reasonable rate compared to the inflated market prices now which are making it difficult for people to find stable and affordable housing, further increasing California’s already high homelessness and poverty rates. 

When asked about possible solutions for more affordable housing, one of Lock Dawson’s office staff members said that there was not yet a given solution but the mayor believes the oppose unless amend stance can hopefully bring some sort of bipartisan agreement on the future of Riverside’s housing situation.