Senate Bill 10 Misleads Public in Effort to End Single-Family Zoning in California

by on August 25, 2021 · 4 comments

in California, Election, San Diego

by Danna Givot / Times of San Diego / August 23, 2021

From San Diego to Mt. Shasta, homeowners and their representatives are speaking out against the state legislature’s ill-conceived effort to eliminate single-family zoning. I’m adding my voice to that tidal wave of opposition because I’m convinced that Senate Bill 10 also presents an ethical and probably indefensible legal problem for our elected officials.

I’ve read the fine print in SB 10, and there’s no doubt that the proposed law allows the construction of ten housing units on a single-family lot, plus four additional “Accessory Dwelling Units” (also known as ADUs or “granny flats”). That’s a total of 14 housing units, on one parcel, in a single-family neighborhood like mine.

Those are the facts, even though the author of SB 10 tried to minimize the negative impact of his proposal by not counting the four additional structures as “housing units.” Why the sleight of hand? I think there’s an obvious answer: city councils that want to wipe out single-family zoning can avoid public hearings and environmental reviews for projects with up to ten living units, but that scrutiny is required for projects with more than ten units!

In fact, California has historically acknowledged that ADUs are housing units. It’s right there, in black-and-white, in the state’s 2020 ADU Handbook. If an ADU is defined as a housing unit in that state regulation, it must also be considered a housing unit in SB 10, especially because both documents address the issue of ADUs on single-family zoned lots.

I’m not a lawyer, but I’m sure the state legislature cannot — and must not — arbitrarily decide when an ADU is or isn’t considered a housing unit. That’s what SB 10 would do. Judges reject that kind of faulty reasoning as “arbitrary and capricious abuse of discretion.”

We non-lawyers call it what it is: using word-salad to hide the facts, mislead the public, and pave the way for the stealth elimination of single-family zoning.

I urge all our state legislators to closely read SB 10’s language. Not counting ADUs is unethical and possibly legally indefensible! When you understand the negative and irreversible impact SB 10 will have on all communities in your districts, I know you’ll join me and millions of other Californians in our unwavering opposition to SB 10.

Danna Givot is a San Diego homeowner, community activist, and volunteer with Neighbors for a Better San Diego.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Paul Webb August 25, 2021 at 10:15 am

There seems to be a trend happening, in that some dwelling units are not counted as dwelling units. The City’s new “interim residential” zoning ordinance allows residential development that doesn’t count as housing for the purposes of zoning and planning because they are temporary for ten years. Yet, somehow I doubt that anyone is going to build housing of any kind and then demolish it after ten years. Pay no attention to the dwellings behind the curtain!


kh August 25, 2021 at 11:51 am

Probably unrelated, but I just bought an Accessory Vehicular Unit.

The casual observer might be confused and think it’s just a Toyota pickup that I drive to work, but it definitely isn’t. Also since it’s not a vehicle it’s not subject to the vehicle code. This means no license plates, and I don’t have to worry about traffic laws, speed limits, or those pesky lane lines and curbs. Just yesterday I drove my AVU through my neighbors fence and yard. Jerk is hogging this huge property with just a single family home on it, so he sort of asked for it.


Geoff Page August 25, 2021 at 1:15 pm

I love it. It’s great to mix in some humor with this stupidity, thanks for the chuckle, kh.


Paul September 3, 2021 at 3:03 pm

“SB 10 does absolutely nothing. Clearly written in the spirit of compromise, it allows cities to extend by-right approvals for up to 10 units per parcel in transit-rich areas. Any actual action depends on city councils, but it doesn’t mandate anything. Milquetoast as SB 10 is, everyone who even pretends to support housing should have been able to tolerate it. Instead, I saw Livable California mailers that predicted apocalyptic levels of construction. So much for compromise. For cities that do want to both add housing and exercise local control, SB 10 gives them even more power. In some ways, I think advocates are celebrating SB 10 not because it’s going to ease the housing crisis, except in a few cities that embrace it, but rather because it makes opponents look utterly ridiculous.”

Housing opponents, including Ms Givot and her organization, are indeed ridiculous on many levels. Yet they do real harm with misinformation like this article, given our housing crisis.


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