Open Letter to Elected Officials on SB 9

3 Dec

As person of faith, I believe in the Golden Rule: “treat others as you wish to be treated.” Because I am blessed with owning a home here in Pasadena, I want to do everything possible to ensure that others have that blessing. I am also aware that I have benefited from policies that have inhibited the production of homes and thereby raised prices beyond what people can afford. The home that Jill bought for $140,000 now is worth over $850,00. Jesus says; “To whom much is given, much will be required: (Luke 12:48). If you have heard that line of wisdom, you know it means we are held responsible for what we have. If we have been blessed with homes that have increased wildly in value, it is expected that we do what we can to benefit others. I encourage you to write our elected officials and let them know that you support SB 9 and don’t want them to enact policies that will thwart the production of single family homes. Below  is my letter with talking points you are free to use. Here’s the link to today’s city council meeting where the the city’s response to SB 9 will be item #14.  https://ww2.cityofpasadena.net/2021%20Agendas/Dec_06_21/Agenda.asp. Please send your comments in writing or else pull a speaker card. (I plan to do both.) Thanks!

Dear Mayor and City Council members.

I want to thank you for supporting ADUs in the past few years, especially the Housing Department’s award-winning pilot program. I am writing to suggest that fears about SB 9 are greatly exaggerated, just like fears about ADUs. The Terner study says that SB 9 would  enable development of duplexes on only 5.4 % of parcels in the state, and most of these would not be developed because of cost and other factors. The impact on Pasadena would be very limited, just like the impact of ADUs.

It is worth noting that most of your constituents probably support SB 9. According to a recent LA Times poll, three quarter of renters and a plurality of homeowners support SB 9.  See https://www.latimes.com/homeless-housing/story/2021-12-02/facing-housing-crisis-l-a-voters-back-duplexes-in-single-family-neighborhoods

Unfortunately, elected officials are listening to the vocal minority, the wealthy elite, not to those who see the value of creating more affordable homes to address the housing crisis in our state and city.

SB 9 will not destroy single family neighborhoods, as critics allege. It simply allows for more single-family homes in these neighborhoods.

The cost of smaller homes on smaller lots will no doubt be less than the current cost of big homes in big lots. This will benefit the “missing middle” who are seeking housing they can afford. It could also help people of color, most of whom cannot afford million dollar homes in Pasadena.

Some have proposed turning most of Pasadena into historic districts to thwart SB 9, but this is an overreaction that could have harmful consequences. I love the historical character of our city and want to see it preserved, but I don’t see that SB 9 poses a significant threat requiring draconian action. Many Pasadenans (myself included) are likely to resent having their homes turned into historical sites and lose the right to build a duplex, or even make changes on their homes. Requests for historical status have always come from the “bottom up,” not imposed from “top down.”

The Council is also considering other ways to thwart implementation of SB 9, such as requiring that they be “affordable.” While we at MHCH support affordable housing, we are concerned that requiring that homes built under SB 9 be “affordable” may be a “poison bill” to make them economically unfeasible.

I am also concerned about requiring two mature trees on a lot where a duplex is built. While I love our city’s tree canopy, I don’t see why this requirement is being imposed on homeowners who want to split their lots. It seems like a way to cast shade on this law, not to benefit the environment.

I do support the idea of making sure  that homeowners who split their lots comply with the state’s requirement and live in their homes for three years. Enforcing this law, perhaps with a fee or fine, could deter investors from taking advantage of SB 9. Currently investors are buying up homes and converting them to rentals or jacking up prices. This is an urgent problem and I feel that this city needs to consider a “flipping fee” to deter this kind of predatory activity. This fee should go into our city’s affordable housing fund.

Instead of complaining about SB 9, the Council needs to pass design standards to insure that any homes built under SB 9 are consistent with the character of the neighborhood. It is also a good idea to read the Terner study (summarized below) and not be swayed by irrational fears.

I’d like to conclude by saying that as a person of faith, I believe in the Golden Rule: “treat others as you wish to be treated.” Because I am blessed with owning a home here in Pasadena, I want to do everything possible to ensure that others have that blessing. I am also aware that I have benefited from policies that have inhibited the production of homes and thereby raised prices beyond what people can afford. The home that Jill bought for $140,000 in the 1990s is now worth over $850,00. Jesus says; “To whom much is given, much will be required: (Luke 12:48). If you have heard that line of wisdom, you know it means we are held responsible for what we have. If we have been blessed with homes that have increased wildly in value, it is expected that we do what we can to benefit others. I hope you will take this teaching to heart as you consider how to respond t  SB 9.

Respectfully, Anthony Manousos

HOW WOULD SB 9 AFFECT HOUSING?

Few neutral studies on the potential impacts of SB 9 — and practically none on SB 10 — are available, but commentators and news publications often cite a July report from the Terner Center for Housing Innovation at UC Berkeley. It noted that the bill could allow property owners access to financing options as they construct additional units, but ultimately expressed doubt that its provisions would result in effects as sweeping as proponents hope and critics fear.

The main issue, according to the center, is that renting or selling a home developed under SB 9 would not be financially viable for many property owners. The report said SB 9 could enable the development of units on 410,000 of California’s single-family parcels, just 5.4% of such parcels in the state.
Out of those 410,000, the report’s authors estimated, the legislation would make new development financially feasible on just 110,000 parcels (for the remaining parcels, some development is already feasible, but the report authors said SB 9 would allow for even more units).

The center, which collaborated with MapCraft Labs, estimated that out of the 18,300 single-family parcels in Burbank, about 15,500 would be eligible under SB 9. However, the organization noted that the bill would increase the number of market-feasible units by roughly 800 parcels, for a total of an estimated 1,300 newly feasible units.
In total, the report noted, SB 9 could allow for the creation of more than 714,000 new homes — primarily duplexes — in California that would not otherwise be market feasible. However, it pointed out that many property owners may not want to pursue the options offered by the bill.“But despite the concerns of some of its detractors, SB 9 will not lead to the overnight transformation of residential neighborhoods,” the authors added. “Differential owner preferences and limited applicability means that only a share of that potential is likely to be developed, particularly in the near term as awareness and capacity expands.“As such, while important, the new units unlocked by SB 9 would represent a fraction of the overall supply needed to fully address the state’s housing shortage.”

Housing Controversy: Senate Bills 9 and 10, Explained

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