sb330 Amended on May 7, 2019

Background of the unamended bill, prior to May 7th:

  • 2/19/19- sb330 was introduced on the floor of the Senate & read the first time
  • 3/20/19- Los Angeles Times Housing reporter, Liam Dillon, confirms with Sen. Skinner's representative that San Diego's coastline Proposition D protected height limit is an intended target of both sb330 & sb50. Liam's tweet...
  • 3/27/19- RTB Spokesperson, James LaMattery, contacts Councilmember Barbara Bry, and all San Diego City Councilmembers, for official positions on sb50 & sb330. (As of 5/10/19- none have provided positions to our office).
  • 3/27/19- RTB Spokesperson, James LaMattery, after having received only an auto response from Bry's office, again informs her office that a position was necessary as he was presenting an opposing position on the bills to the La Jolla Community Planning Association on 3/28/19.
  • 3/28/19- James LaMattery presents case for opposition of sb50 & sb330 at La Jolla Community Planning Association meeting.
  • 4/18/19- James LaMattery presents sb50 and sb330 to community at REBA.  A community-wide request is made, asking residents to call state senators to oppose both senate bills.
  • 5/2/19 With pressure from the La Jolla Community Planning Association at their May 2 meeting, Councilmember Barbara Bry's representative, Mauricio Medina responded that Bry is “against SB 330 and SB 50,” but “it is really at the State level” and he suggested reaching out to San Diego’s representative, Senator Toni Atkins.
  • 5/4/19-RTB issues an EMAIL ALERT to La Jolla, Bay Park, & Clairemont Community to call senators to register opposition to sb50 & sb330.
  • 5/7/19- sb330 is amended in the Senate! The amendment added text to the bill, clearly stating it couldn't be construed to void a height limit established by the electorate prior to Jan 1, 2018, as Proposition D was approved in 1972.
  • 5/9/19 - VOSD: Sen.Skinner claims Proposition D height limit was never the target of sb330- Despite her representative's claim to Liam Dillon (above) in an interview on March 20th.

 

 

A big THANK-YOU to all who participated in the action to call our State Senators last Saturday, May 4th!  But before we do a happy dance, there's more to do to prevent the height limit from being busted.

Although we were successful in getting the bill amended with added text that protects Proposition D height limits, unfortunately, more needs to be amended in the bill to prevent our San Diego City Council from repealing Proposition D once a "qualified" sb330 project proposal is submitted within the boundary (Coastal Overlay Map).  Or the language in sb330 needs to be amended, or removed that prohibits the electorate from exercising its right to use the ballot initiative process to decide housing policy.

For those of you who prematurely think that that language would end in a constitutional lawsuit anyway, I encourage you to reread the "purpose" of the bill, and focus on the key word in its title, "Crisis."

Emergency declaratory powers of the state are difficult to resist.

Please note the amendment to sb330, which was made on May 7th, after pressure was put on Senator Toni Atkins and Assemblymember Todd Gloria from phone calls by La Jollans to protect the 1972 Proposition D coastal height limit of 30ft, does not prevent the San Diego City Council from approving a taller project without going to the ballot (voters) first — similar to a regular conditional use permit/zoning change process now.

Prior to May 7th, the bill would have overridden the  Proposition D ballot initiative outright by suspending it until 2030 to allow new housing.  The added language on May 7th clearly leaves any ballot initiative, enacted prior to January 1, 2018, in place:

sb330 Amendment, May 7, 2019: (2) This section shall not be construed to void a height limit, urban growth boundary, or urban limit established by the electorate of an affected county or an affected city on or before January 1, 2018.

Unfortunately, since the City Municipal Code allows the San Diego City Council to repeal the Proposition D height limit, without a public referendum, the public needs a further guarantee the 30ft limit wouldn't be busted.

This means that the suspension of the Proposition D height limits can be made by the San Diego City Council if a developer submits a project in a TPA that requests the height limit to be suspended for their project.   If the project is within a "High Resource" area, and if sb50 is enacted, that could be allowed anywhere in the geographical area of La Jolla. 

Skinner herself has acknowledged that, "the legislation merely (sic) suspends, for a period of 10 years, any local requirement that the city councils or boards of supervisors seek voter approval to increase the density of housing projects."  This is little comfort for San Diegans with the current SDCC membership.

For inland areas, not protected by Proposition D height limits, this means the SDCC can issue a simple variance to a project developer to increase current height limits within a TPA or "Jobs Rich" area.  With coastal areas, a developer can submit a project which seeks density bonuses that would bust the limit, and the SDCC could repeal the Prop D legislation, allow the new height and San Diegans couldn't fight back with a ballot initiative for 10 years! 

When you understand that the BIA (Building Industry Association) is the "co-sponsor" of the bill, you begin to realize why all legitimate electorate avenues to fight back are cleverly written into the bill-only their lobbyists could design such effective language to cut off any public participation in the housing "crisis."

Its a wonder that Senator Skinner bothers to answer inquires about her bill, she should properly hand the phone over to the lobbyist.  The lobbyist would most likely have removed the word "merely" from Skinner's interpretation of their bill, knowing that it would be highly insensitive to communities that have had to rely upon ballot initiatives to supercede bad legislation.  Californians established our rights to the initiative process on Oct. 10, 1911.  We desired the "direct democracy" the process provides.

The California Secretary of State has a great civics lesson some could benefit from.

In his "State of the City 2019" Mayor Faulconer's stated "height limits outside the coastal zone put a cap on housing – this year I’ll propose the Council remove them. "

The San Diego City Council were emboldened by the mayor's speech, and removed parking space requirements for projects built in TPAs on March 19, 2019.

Pressure now needs to  be applied to our San Diego City Council members to commit to not busting Proposition D height limits, or another amendment to sb330 needs to guarantee protection from such acts by a city or county government, or remove the following language in the bill:

(f) (1) Notwithstanding Section 9215, 9217, or 9323 of the Elections Code or any other provision of law, except the California Constitution and as provided in paragraph (2), any requirement that local voter approval, or the approval of a supermajority of any body of the affected county or the affected city, be obtained to increase the allowable intensity of housing, to establish housing as an allowable use, or to provide services and infrastructure necessary to develop housing, is hereby declared against public policy and void. For purposes of this subdivision, “intensity of housing” is broadly defined to include, but is not limited to, height, density, or floor area ratio, or open space or lot size requirements, or setback requirements, minimum frontage requirements, or maximum lot coverage limitations, or anything that would be a less intensive use or reduction in the intensity of land use as defined in this subdivision.

In the current political environment, it is unlikely that either will happen.

Put simply, sb330 is written to prevent any action by voters to put the height limit back in place (through another initiative) once its challenged by a developer and consequently repealed by the City Council.

Worse, the bill declares that an electorate that establishes a requirement that infrastructure and added city services, necessary to develop housing, be part of the approval process is "against public policy and void."

If sb330 is enacted before we can get a voter-approved initiative completed  to retain local control of housing decisions,  we won't have the opportunity to do it after sb330 becomes state law.

It is why a strong public opposition now is imperative to build. The bill clearly declares "any requirement to obtain local voter approval or supermajority approval of any body of the county or city for specified purposes related to housing development against public policy and void."

BALLOON MARCH II will go a long way to bring San Diegans across the county into the debate.

RTB is organizing San Diego's permanent base of opposition to current and future efforts by the State Legislature to bust the coastal height limits established by the electorate in 1972.

James LaMattery, RTB Spokesperson

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