San Jacinto Council voices opposition to Sacramento’s SB 50 housing bill

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The ramifications of California Senate Bill 50 and the reasons why cities should oppose it was the center of a short San Jacinto City Council meeting, Tuesday, Jan. 21.

Introducing the discussion about the housing bill was Mayor Pro Tem Crystal Ruiz in the absence of Mayor Andrew Kotyuk.

City Attorney Mike Marer was called upon to explain what SB 50 will do to California cities’ general plans concerning housing.

“Everything we are planning on doing in our general plan and those things in our development code would basically be null and void on several issues,” Marer said. “One most notably, in residential land use where there are single family residences… increasing density and higher density around modal areas (all-in-one accessory dwellings designed to increase housing options) which technically we don’t have in the city, and then creating the atmosphere where basically developers can tell the city what they are going to build and how they are going to build.”

He told Councilmember Alonzo Ledesma, who asked for more explanation, it means a builder could build a fourplex on a single-family zoned lot or the owner could tear down his single-family home and make it a condo or fourplex if he wanted to without the city’s approval.

“SB 50 is a bill that was initially proposed by Sen. Scott Wiener in 2019,” according to the city manager’s staff report. “The bill failed to make it out of the Senate Appropriations Committee in 2019 and became a two-year bill. It is scheduled to be heard in the Appropriations Committee Jan. 23, 2020.

“SB 50 would eliminate single-family residential zoning as a land use in San Jacinto and most other communities throughout California, by creating a right to develop fourplexes in all residential districts. The bill also eliminates local control over certain height, density and parking requirements in ill-defined ‘jobs-rich’ areas, and areas near certain transit stops.

“Some exemptions are contained in the bill for counties with a population of less than 600,000, and for coastal cities with a population of less than 50,000. The California League of Cities has identified opposition to SB 50 as an action item,” according to the staff report.

Ruiz said, “There are some very dangerous bills coming down from Sacramento, and this (SB 50) is one of them. We need to stand strong with the League with this one.”

She made a motion to send a letter of support to the League on their opposition to SB 50, and Councilmember Russ Utz said the letter of opposition should go to all the Inland Empire cities asking for their support as well as every state official that represents the area.

“This super dangerous legislation… It is a very dangerous precedent if we allow this to go forward,” Utz said.

The council moved 4-0 to send the letters in opposition to SB 50.

Several committee appointments that were to be made by the mayor, who was not present, were held over, although the council made its own recommendations. The mayoral appointments will include the council delegates for the upcoming International Council of Shopping Centers and the Planning Commission’s Ad Hoc Committee.

Cub Scouts from Pack 46, who are all 5 and 6-year-olds, were called on to give the Pledge of Allegiance. Joel Ortiz of San Jacinto American Legion Post 848 gave the invocation.

The next San Jacinto City Council will take place Feb. 4, at the San Jacinto Community Center.

Tony Ault can be reached by email at tault@reedermedia.com.