Pasadena violates law regarding SB 9 and tries to prevent homeowners from creating less expensive homes on their lots

16 Mar

“To whom much is given, much will be required” (Luke 12:48).

Pasadena is a city with huge disparities between rich and poor, and many of the rich would like to keep our city just the way it is. Even though low-income people, and people of color, are being displaced because the median home price is now one million dollars, many wealthy homeowners and their allies on the City Council oppose a law that would help create less expensive homes and allow some of the “missing middle” (teachers, city workers, etc.) to live in the city where they work. Those who oppose SB 9 need to be reminded of what Jesus said: “Those to whom much is given, much will be required.” This applies to homeowners like Jill and me. Jill bought our home for $140,000 in 1993 and now it’s worth $900,000. We’ve been “given much” thanks to soaring housing costs (caused in part by policies that limit density) and now we want to make sure that others can have what we have: an affordable home.

SB 9 is a law that allows homeowners to split their lots and create additional units which will undoubtedly be less costly than current homes in Pasadena (which now average one million dollars)  because they will be smaller and on smaller lots. We at MHCH support this law and want the city to find ways to make it work for our city, as was done with the state laws regarding Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs). (Pasadena’s City Council fiercely opposed ADUs, until state law forced the city to drop restrictions and allow them. Now Pasadena proudly embraces ADUs and for good reasons: many are building them for family members and are providing “naturally occurring affordable housing”.)

Cities like Pasadena that oppose SB 9 have catered to the fears of wealthy homeowners and ignored studies showing that this law will not drastically change or harm single-family neighborhoods. Elected officials have tried to thwart the law by declaring areas of the city “landmark districts” so these areas can be exempt from compliance. This article makes it clear that what Pasadena is doing is illegal. We hope that our city will try to see the value of this law and adopt policies like the ones adopted for ADUs that will encourage homeowners to make new units as affordable as possible.

Less than a month before the state law took effect, Pasadena, a Southern California city of roughly 140,000 people, passed an ordinance that among other restrictions allows officials to exempt eligible areas by declaring them “landmark districts.”

But no such exemption exists under the law, Bonta said.

The ordinance “undermines SB 9 and denies residents the opportunity to create sorely needed additional housing, under the guise of protecting ‘landmark districts,’” Bonta said in a statement. “This is disappointing and, more importantly, violates state law.”

Entry by Anthony Manousos, Co-founder of MHCH

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