Bullet Point Analysis — Reasons to Oppose SB 902 (Wiener), the “Attack on Democratic Voting Rights” Bill

  1. It sounds far-fetched, but SB 902 is “greased” for approval in California state Senate committees. Yet it contains a major anti-democracy clause that went unnoticed due to its original convoluted wording: It empowers cities and counties to UNDO voter-enacted citizen initiatives that restrict land use — to make way for 10-unit luxury apartments.
  2. We’ll say it again: SB 902 allows California municipalities to override voter-approved ballot initiatives, for the sole purpose of approving 10-unit luxury apartments of any height, on “any parcel,” on streets statewide.
  3.  An online search of protected open space, shorelines and sensitive areas finds that SB 902 would allow the nullification, by city and county elected officials, of more than 20 major citizen initiatives approved in the past decade, and far more citizen initiatives approved by voters in previous decades.
  4.  Imagine the lawsuits, if attorneys must defend California voters in Albany, Berkeley, Fremont, Martinez, Emeryville, Alameda, Merced, Gilroy, Dana Point, Los Angeles, Moorpark, Napa, Pacific Grove, Redondo Beach, Simi Valley, Thousand Oaks, and other cities and counties if municipal leaders chose to utilize the poisonous SB 902.
  5. The second part of this bizarre bill would overrun most residential areas, including single-family streets, with luxury 10-unit apartments by letting cities pass ordinances to upzone any parcel if the land is within a newly redefined, expanded “Transit-Rich” or  “Jobs-Rich” areas, or is deemed “urban infill.”
  6. “Urban infill” covers most unbuilt land in most communities. This bill puts 10-unit luxury housing on that parcel, when what we NEED is affordable housing.
  7.  If your street doesn’t have an “urban infill” empty lot, Sen. Wiener will still jam 10-unit luxury housing onto your block, by turning once-meaningful concepts into nonsense: “Jobs-Rich,” a definition in state law, would be recast to include any area in which constructing a 10-unit luxury building could, theoretically, “enable shorter commute times” — an absurd and impossible attempt to measure complex human data and behavior.
  8. “Transit Rich,” another once-meaningful definition in state law, would also become almost meaningless, downgraded to mean any bus route that offers service every 15 minutes during rush hours. Wiener’s bill would create mile-wide “corridors” in the vicinity of bus stops, in which single-family zoning would be upended for 10-unit luxury apartments whose occupants will never use buses. Make sense? No, it doesn’t.
  9.  SB 902 is another over-the-top experiment, similar to Wiener’s badly failed SB 50 and SB 827. But in going after voter rights, Scott Wiener has gone well beyond the pale.

Bullet Point Analysis — Reasons to Oppose AB 725 (Wicks/Wiener), the “Written By YIMBY” Bill

  1. AB 725 would require cities to relocate at least 25% of their future “RHNA”-required growth into fully established single-family, duplex, and small-apartment neighborhoods statewide. The upheaval will be unprecedented.
  2. AB 725 would open thriving working-class and middle-class neighborhoods to speculation and buy-outs, destroying housing to make way for up to 30 units per acre in “metro” counties, 20 units per acre in “suburban” counties, 15 units per acre in cities in rural counties, and 10 per acre in unincorporated areas.
  3. AB 725 is worse than Wiener’s SB 50 and SB 827 because while it similarly targets single-family and low-density areas for high-density, no transit service is required.
  4. AB 725 entirely ignores the need for infrastructure to accommodate density, and provides no local funding.
  5. AB 725 destabilizes homeownership, creating widespread displacement and planning chaos in cities.
  6. The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrates the need to reject Wiener’s failing “trickle-down” housing theory and address the real crisis, the need to reward, not punish, cities to actually construct truly affordable housing. This bill requires NO affordable units. RHNA is begging for reform, and this bill is proof of it.

Note: This bill’s language was written by YIMBY California, which opposes single-family homes and yards. Today, roughly 400 cities cannot meet the impossible density and growth goals called the Regional Housing Needs Assessment or “RHNA.” RHNA was once a helpful tool for cities to plan for actual housing needs. Today, thanks to Wiener and others, RHNA is used as a weapon against cities, ordering them to achieve impossible “housing approval targets.” Please see this Embarcadero Institute study and detailed pdf spreadsheets, to understand how outlandish RHNA’s demands have become. SB 725 doubles down on RHNA’s move to control city planning.

Bullet Point Analysis — Reasons to Oppose AB 1279 (Bloom), the “120 Units on Your Block” Bill

  1. AB 1279 targets hundreds of cities with drastic up-zoning, in essence a punishment, if cities were unable to approve enough housing units to meet the badly-inflated targets set by the Regional Housing Needs Assessment.
  2. In hundreds of unsuspecting middle-class and working-class communities who have never heard of “RHNA,” AB 1279 would squeeze in 50-units per ¼ acre and 120 units per ½ acre.
  3. Studies verify that cities are failing to hit their arbitrary “RHNA” housing-approval targets because developers don’t bring them enough projects. Cities don’t “build” housing. Assemblymember Bloom and Scott Wiener are in denial of this fact, finding it easy to blame cities who do their best.
  4. Unsuspecting residents of working- and middle-class so-called “Opportunity Areas,” huge zones that are yet to be mapped by state officials, would see their communities bought out, demolished and paved over. Nobody, including the bill’s author, Bloom, knows which robust communities would be targeted and destroyed.
  5. Under AB 1279, developers can pay a modest “in lieu fee” to avoid offering even ONE affordable unit in any project, even while destroying existing housing.
  6. Legislators originally created RHNA to help cities determine how much housing was needed — a good idea. Now, RNHA is being badly abused by regional authorities who order cities to grow at impossible rates. RHNA is begging for reform, and this bill is proof of it.

Note: Roughly 400 cities cannot meet the impossible “growth goal” called the Regional Housing Needs Assessment or “RHNA.” RHNA was once a helpful tool for cities to plan for housing needs. Today, thanks to Wiener and others, RHNA has been corrupted into a weapon against cities, used by “regional” housing officials who create impossible housing approval targets. Please see this Embarcadero Institute study and detailed pdf spreadsheets, to understand how off-base RHNA has become. This bill doubles down on RHNA.

 Bullet Point Analysis — Reasons to Oppose AB 3173 (Bloom), the “Luxury Walk-in Closet” Bill

  1. AB 3173 forces unlimited density and height on communities to make way for exceedingly dense luxury “housing” that is clearly aimed at wealthy travelers and corporate stay-overs. No affordable units are required. This is not housing.
  2. At just 80 square-feet, AB 3173 seeks a radical miniaturization of accepted market-rate micro-unit sizes of about 350- to 400 square feet, which is generally deemed still livable.
  3. Eight major cities would be stripped of power over micro-unit zoning, parking requirements, on-site open space, environmental consideration or height: Los Angeles, San Jose, Oakland, Long Beach, Fresno, San Francisco, Sacramento and San Diego.
  4. Micro-units are a bonanza for developers, pulling in nearly double the rent per square feet of an actual apartment, according to the Urban Land Institute. AB 3173 will fuel speculation, severely impacting affordable, multi-family areas.
  5. AB 3173 lets developers boost square footage 50% beyond what a city allows, upending Community Plans and General Plans. In municipalities that have a height limit, developers can add another 16 feet.