Jan. 9, 2021,
SB 10 does two things: It lets a simple majority on a city council overturn voter-approved ballot initiatives that protect open space and land, or that protect neighborhoods on such issues as height limits. SB 10 would also allows cities to approve 10-unit market-rate apartments almost anywhere, regardless of zoning. SB 10 is a repeat of the widely ridiculed SB 902 by Scott Wiener, killed by legislators in 2020.
SB 10 Fact Sheet:
1. SB 10 by state Sen. Scott Wiener would override the 108-year-old constitutional right of Californians to pass ballot initiatives that politicians cannot undo.
Livable California has compiled a partial list, below, of citizen-approved ballot measures that are law in California. They protect shorelines, canyons, urban boundaries, open space, historic architecture and neighborhoods.
Please contact us at [email protected] to alert us to voter-approved ballot measures that protect land or zoning, but are not listed below. We will update and correct the list as info comes in.
2. SB 10, like Wiener’s 2020 lookalike bill SB 902, would allow 10-unit market rate apartments to be built almost anywhere, via simple approval of a city council, regardless of existing zoning or the city’s General Plan.
The concept of unaffordable market-rate 10-unit apartments allowed almost everywhere was also the core goal of Scott Wiener’s infamous SB 50, killed in January of 2020 by legislators.
Under SB 10, the 10-unit market rate buildings could be approved by any of the 400-plus city councils on ANY land deemed “urban infill,” “transit rich,” or “jobs rich.”
In defining the squishy term “urban infill,” city councils can deem land “underutilized” and thus “urban infill.” State employees would define which communities are “transit rich,” or “jobs rich” — a term even more squishy than “urban infill.” We predict that SB 10 would allow 10-unit market-rate apartment buildings on most blocks, in most communities.
North to South, Voter-Approved Land Protections that City Councils Could Overturn Under SB 10 (This list begins with NorCal communities, and ends with SoCal communities. Due to additions, it may not be in exact North-South order. If you know of a voter-approved land protection not on the list, please let us know at [email protected] Older ballot measures, in place and still strong, may be missing.):
1) Napa County farmland protection initiative Measure J was approved by voters in 1990. It was challenged in court, and ultimately the California Supreme Court sided with voters, ruling that voters can alter a city’s General Plan via initiative (California Supreme Court/Devita v. County of Napa 1995).
2) Napa County General Plan Initiative, Measure P, a citizen-initiated measure approved by voters on Nov. 4, 2008, extending to the year 2058 the provisions of Measure J from 1990.
3) Martinez voters passed in June 2018 a citizen initiative to establish an open space and parks overlay in the city’s General Plan and require voter approval on changes to such lands (Martinez Measure I, Open Space and Parks Overlay – Citizen Initiative June 2018).
4) Albany residents in 1990 approved Measure C by 75%, a shoreline protection initiative sponsored by Citizens for the Albany Shoreline and backed by environmental coalition CESP.
5) Emeryville shoreline protection measure passed in 1987.
6) Alameda voters in 1973 passed Measure A, restricting multi-family housing to preserve Victorian Era homes, now Article 26 of the City Charter. In 1991 it was amended to add density limits for projects. Recent state laws somewhat weakened Alameda’s protections. In 2020, four Alameda Council members, backed by legislators Bonta and Nancy Skinner, urged voters to kill Alameda’s protections. Their Measure Z overwhelmingly failed: 59% of voters opposed.
7) Fremont voters approved the Hill Area Initiative of 2002 to protect open space. Measure T was put on the ballot by 13,000 Fremont residents.
8) Belmont voters in 2005 approved Measure F by a huge 73%, to protect hillsides from increased density and development. It asked “Shall an ordinance be adopted to protect and preserve hillside areas of Belmont by requiring voter approval of any future amendments to the zoning …?”
11) Gilroy citizen-initiated ballot measure prevents development outside boundaries, approved by voters November 8, 2016 https://www.bizjournals.com/sanjose/news/2016/02/19/gilroy-group-taking-growth-boundary-to-the-ballot.html
13) Ventura community leaders in 1995 created the region’s SOAR movement, or Save Open Space and Agricultural Resources. Seven other cities in Ventura County have followed suit. In the City of Ventura, the SOAR initiative approved by voters in 1995 requires voter approval before the rezoning of unincorporated open space, agricultural land or rural land for development.
14) Camarillo’s SOAR initiative requires voter approval for urban development beyond a City Urban Restriction Boundary (CURB), and was renewed by voters in 2016.
15) Fillmore’s SOAR initiative requires voter approval for urban development beyond a City Urban Restriction Boundary (CURB), and was renewed by voters in 2016.
16) Oxnard’s SOAR initiative requires voter approval for urban development beyond a City Urban Restriction Boundary (CURB), and was renewed by voters in 2016.
17) Santa Paula’s SOAR initiative requires voter approval for urban development beyond a City Urban Restriction Boundary (CURB), and was renewed by voters in 2016.
18) Simi Valley voters approved Measure Z, a City Urban Restriction Boundary extension, on November 8, 2016. It protects lands through 2050, via the initiative petition campaign in Ventura County known as SOAR.
21 ) Los Angeles residents in 1986 approved the citizen initiative Prop. U, which reduced by 50% the size of high-rises on commercial corridors near homes. It was heavily backed by South L.A. and Eastside voters as well as Westside and Valley voters. Prop. U was partially overturned by voter-approved JJJ in 2016 to allow market-rate housing towers if a very small percent of affordable units are included. Commercial heights remain restricted under Prop. U.
22) Redondo Beach citizen initiative Measure C won handily, restricting development in the King Harbor-Pier area. Approved by voters March 7, 2017.
23) Redondo Beach Measure DD, a citizen initiative in 2008, got 58.5% of the vote. It requires voter approval of major land-use decisions and changes that would convert public land to private use, change business zoning to residential or mixed-use zoning with certain density limits, or significantly increase traffic, density or intensity of use in a neighborhood.
24) Dana Point, California, Town Center Plan and Parking Citizen Initiative, Measure H (June 2016) initiative approved by voters.
25) Dana Point, California, Town Center and Public Parking City Council Referral, Measure I (June 2016) initiative approved by voters.
26) Solana Beach in 2000 passed by 62% the citizen initiative Proposition T. It requires voter approval to alter or increase General Plan Land Use categories with the exception of residential land that is being reduced in density. Prop. T allows the city to comply with state and federal law and the local coastal program, without seeking voter approval.
27) Encinitas approved in 2013 its “Right to Vote” initiative, Prop. A, which requires voter approval to increase zoning density or the city height limit of 30 feet. The initiative is the focus of a complex legal battle over how much power the State of California has in ordering cities to increase their density and population.
28) Santee voters in November 2020 approved Measure N, a hotly contested initiative that requires voter approval of any zoning changes or developments that intensify or increase density on residential land. initiative in Santee on November 3, 2020.