What the YIMBYs Don’t Want You to Know: Neither Senate Bills 9 or 10 Include Requirements for Affordability

by on August 9, 2021 · 8 comments

in Ocean Beach, San Diego

By Mat Wahlstrom

As noted in my previous articles, developers have launched a two-front assault on development responsive to public input: getting collaborators onto the boards of community planning groups and city commissions, and changing the laws at the state and local levels to make opposition to future projects impossible.

Senate Bills 9 and 10 are efforts to effect the second part.

Introduced by our state senator, Toni Atkins, SB 9 would require cities to approve splitting single-family lots into duplexes, which combined with recent accessory dwelling unit rule changes would lead to automatic approval of six units per lot.

SB 10, co-authored by Atkins, would authorize projects of up to ten units in areas with single-family zoning along with (as reported here) giving “city councils and boards of supervisors the ability to override voter-adopted initiative measures as well as general plans.”

Neither bill has requirements for affordability or offsets to the strains of added density on existing water supplies, infrastructure, amenities, tree cover, parking, or public safety. And there is no legislation pending to address the biggest factors affecting housing affordability: depressed real wages and stagnant household income, the increase in costs of living across the board.

A list of genuine social justice policies to turn things around would include using eminent domain of commercial spaces for housing, downzoning to reduce inflated land values and restricting upzoning to truly affordable housing, enacting anti-speculation measures, creating robust tenant rights, underwriting investment in social housing, making affordable housing truly affordable, and instituting lending regulations for new development.

We don’t have a housing crisis — we have an “affordable” housing crisis. And we need real change. Which is why it’s suspect that there are those who double down on handing over power and decision making to the same “free market” that got us into this crisis.

These are the facts, and they merit serious discussion. But instead those plugging for these bills, as they do for every other pro-developer position, resort to personal attacks framed in their simplistic binary of YIMBY/ NIMBY.

YIMBYs label those opposed to top-down blanket upzoning as selfish, only interested in protecting their own home values — while also ridiculing them for not taking advantage of the increase to the resale value of their homes.

They term those wanting to preserve existing affordable housing as bigots for not allowing it destroyed on behalf of fictitious future residents — while avoiding that what market rate replaces it is never ‘naturally’ affordable.

They disparage those who present as white as privileged — without blushing in shame at the composition of the boards of the pro-developer nonprofits whose talking points they mimic or that the impacts of these bills will disproportionately affect communities of color.

And anything said by those of an apparent age is met by a combination of the above — with the varied added insults of being out of touch, anti-youth, or mentally decrepit as reasons enough to dismiss them.

As seen in numerous comments on this site and elsewhere online, to honestly question any pro-developer land use position is to summon a swarm of criticism couched in the appropriated language of social justice.

While for decades it has been standard to tar anyone concerned about the actions of the rich as “communist”, now the wealthy and their proxies paradoxically allege that those speaking out against their racist and classist projects are themselves racist and classist.

It’s the arrogation of the term “progressive” unmoored from objective meaning —as Trumpism has done also with the term “conservative.”

And as with Trump and his followers, the intent of this divisiveness is to shut down meaningful dialogue, to ‘win’ by gaslighting and bullying others out of the process.

All of which begs the question: If the YIMBY project is truly about ‘justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion,’ then why is there no daylight between them and Trump?

“Driving the rise in housing costs is a lack of housing supply to meet demand.  Federal, State, local, and tribal governments impose a multitude of regulatory barriers — laws, regulations, and administrative practices — that hinder the development of housing.

These regulatory barriers include:  overly restrictive zoning and growth management controls; rent controls; cumbersome building and rehabilitation codes; excessive energy and water efficiency mandates; unreasonable maximum-density allowances; historic preservation requirements; overly burdensome wetland or environmental regulations; outdated manufactured-housing regulations and restrictions; undue parking requirements; cumbersome and time-consuming permitting and review procedures; tax policies that discourage investment or reinvestment; overly complex labor requirements; and inordinate impact or developer fees.

These regulatory barriers increase the costs associated with development, and, as a result, drive down the supply of affordable housing.”

Excerpt from Trump Executive Order on Eliminating Regulatory Barriers to Affordable Housing, issued June 25, 2019

The legislature reconvenes from summer recess on August 16. Unless they face overwhelming constituent opposition, SB 9 and SB 10 could be approved by as few as forty-one legislators well before the end of the session on September 10. Here is a link to how you can make yourself heard.

And beware mistaking those working to end the oppression of everyone with those working simply to not be oppressed themselves.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Leslie Bruce August 9, 2021 at 11:48 pm

Amen, Mat Wahlstrom! We’ve got to get the word out; no one knows about this and if we don’t fight back hard right now, we will be like the frog in the boiling water, too complacent to act before it’s too late. Another consideration no one seems to mention is the Peninsula is in the flight path! Densification in the flight path is dangerous. I have contacted the Airport Land Use Commission to alert them to SB 9 & 10 and the city’s even more extreme and excessive ADU policies. Call AND email Chris Ward AND the Governor NOW. And tell Jen Campbell and Mayor Gloria that destroying neighborhoods for no good reason (affordable housing will not result from these misguided efforts) will not be tolerated. VOTE them out if they do otherwise!

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Mat Wahlstrom August 10, 2021 at 9:11 am

Thank you, Leslie. A poll just published shows that opposition increases to 71% for SB 9 and 75% for SB 10 after messages and endorsers have been heard, https://www.housinghumanright.org/sb-9-10-poll-results/

In addition to the email/contact tools available by following the last link in my article, people can also go to https://www.HousingHumanRight.org/ and https://StopSB9.org to

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Paul Webb August 10, 2021 at 10:58 am

As I said in a recent comment responding to another story, the whole granny flat/densification/ADU/micro dwellings push as vehicles for affordable housing is just a sham argument to allow more buildings and more profits for builders. I recently pressed the Mayor’s representative on just what mechanisms the city is going to employ to insure housing affordability – deed restrictions or other covenants, more Section 8 vouchers, etc. His response was “I don’t want to get down into the weeds on this.” My reply was that the weeds were what those of use paying attention to this issue were interested in.

There is no plan. All that the Mayor’s housing plan will bring us is more market rate housing. This may, and I stress may, result in market pressures to reduces rents or purchase prices, but I’m not going to hold my breath. Trickle down economics takes a lot of time to happen, but the effects of this plan will be felt today.

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Leslie Bruce August 10, 2021 at 4:10 pm

I couldn’t agree more. Mayor Gloria has a real opportunity to do the right things as he was not involved in the passage of this ADU debacle. It’s unfortunate his staff didn’t wish to/couldn’t “get into the weeds.” As you say, those are exactly what we need to know and to change.

RE: SB 9 & 10, they put the Governor in a tough position, especially before a recall vote. I wouldn’t be surprised if he asks legislators (like ours) to pull them before the vote.

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sealintheSelkirks August 11, 2021 at 2:43 am

Aside from the never-ending same/same-old policies of San Diego politicians funded and owned by the insatiable greedy wealthy, reading this leaves me morbidly curious as to just where these neighborhood destroyers think they are going to get the water that all these high-rent densely packed new structures they want to build are going to need. Is nobody paying attention to the disappearing Colorado River where this city gets most of its H2O from? That certainly could be a serious problem. Oh wait, it already IS a serious problem if you want to think about how the vegetable and fruit farmers in the Central Valley have already been cut off from water supplies due to diminishing resources…

Our species has always had a real problem in comprehending the term existential, too, and a horrible record of taking the longer view when thinking about the future. Greed triumphs with the short term quarterly profit statement/neoliberal economic model as long-term planning and foresight takes a backseat to the golden rings they grasp for…
____

And Paul Webb, the one thing we have learned about Reagan’s vaunted ‘trickle down economics’ in the last 40 years is that it NEVER happens. Wealth only trickles up. What trickles down on the rest of us is yellow in color…

sealintheSelkirks

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Paul Webb August 11, 2021 at 9:29 am

Seal in the Selkirks, Amen brother!

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Geoff Page August 11, 2021 at 3:27 pm

Excellent piece, Mat.

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Mat Wahlstrom August 11, 2021 at 6:26 pm

My thanks to everyone for your encouragement. It’s difficult to understand the enormity of the developers’ influence — like the fable of the blind men trying to describe an elephant.

But a good place to start is to ask why, when we have a mayor who blames his predecessor of the opposing party for all that goes wrong, none of the previous policies have been changed and all the same advisors kept in leadership positions.

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