March 25, 2019

Will sb50 wipe out your neighborhood search

Statement by Hydee Feldstein, Attorney on SB 50 Impact  1/7/2020 SB 50 was published last night (my copy came through at 10:09 pm).  Link to the bill page (where you also can compare it to the prior version or see the redline to existing law): As is usually the case with bills authored by Senator Wiener, the redline is not especially user-friendly.  A number of the provisions still are included by reference to other sections of law.  For example, you have to thread through a whole bunch of cross-references to figure out that the “equitable incentives” apply even in coastal areas and that coastal zone protection from this type of development apparently is being eliminated for cities with a population of 50,000 or more and is being eroded up and down our coast other than in Del Norte County.  More on that below.
The redline between versions also has a fair amount of strikethroughs and “new” language that are meaningless both because some of the strike throughs were passed last year and are already in the law (eg the enactment of SB 330) and because a number of the redlined changes come up just because language was moved from one section of SB 50 to another section. Quick Refresher:  This bill did and still does the following:
1.  4plex upzoning by Neighborhood Multifamily Projects:  These sections upzone nearly every parcel of real estate in California to multifamily fourplex housing.  So no single family or duplex or triplex zoning would be allowed statewide (other than the coastal zone of Del Norte County) if this passes.
2.  Expands state wide development “incentives” in areas characterized as “jobs-rich” or “transit-rich”, which in effect applies to most urbanized areas in California, intensifying density and promoting development along the coast at least in cities of more than 50,000 inhabitants.
3.  Provides yet more “streamlining” of development approval processes, eliminating conditional use permit requirements, density restrictions, parking, and environmental, habitat, evacuation, earthquake, public safery and other zoning protections.
4. Overrides local zoning to permit construction of luxury condos and townhouses up to 20 units WITHOUT ANY INCLUSIONARY HOUSING and up to 10 units without any affordability contribution whatsoever.
5.  ELIMINATES protection for all historic districts including HPOZs in Los Angeles that were not in existence as of 12/31/2010.
6.  Subject cities, counties and other local agencies to private lawsuits by developers and/or potential residents of a project.

I am still reviewing the bill as amended and will circulate a detailed analysis as that review is done but my notes so far are that:

1.  STATEWIDE ZONING TO PERMIT A MINIMUM OF 4 UNITS ON ANY PARCEL OF LAND, ANYWHERE IN THE STATE INCLUDING ALL COASTAL ZONES, EXCEPT DEL NORTE COUNTY.  There is no limitation on “NEIGHBORHOOD FAMILY PROJECTS” or “fourplex” upzoning so long as the project is on “vacant land” (which is redefined to include a parcel with an existing “substandard” structure unoccupied for the preceding 5 years) or, if the existing structure on the parcel has been occupied or is not substandard, then the demolition of up to 25% of the exterior and expansion of up to 15% of the square tootage is what is permitted to create up to 4 units.  The only coastal zone protection is from streamlining for coastal zone parcels within the jurisdiction of “local agencies” that have a population of less than 600,000.  See the definition of “eligible parcel” in Sections 65913.5(b)(1) and (3) and Section 65913.6(b). The “local agency” language here (as opposed to the “city” language in connection with the application of “equitable incentives” discussed below) means that even coastal areas and coastal zone parcels are subject to the upzoning of “neighborhood multifamily projects.”  This is because Government Code 66000 defines “local agency” to mean “any county, city, whether general law or chartered, city and county, school district, special district, authority, agency, any other municipal public corporation or district, or other political subdivision of the state.”  There is no coastal county in California with a population below 50,000 as of the 2010 census excecpt Del Norte in the far northwestern part of the state, bordering on Oregon and even there the exemption only applies to coastal zones as defined on a state level.

2.  ELIMINATION/EROSION OF OTHER COASTAL ZONE PROTECTION.   In addition to statewide upzoning, SB 50 clearly requires a coastal city with a population of more than 50,000 to approve “equitable incentives” development and no coatal protection in these larger cities has been preserved.   Coastal cities of more than 50,000 residents include not only the obvious — San Diego, Los Angeles, and San Francisco — but also many more cities that seem less obvious like Oceanside, Costa Mesa, Newport Beach, Huntington Beach, Long Beach, Santa Monica, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Palo Alto, and Santa Cruz.

It is not clear whether parcels located within a local coastal protection zone as opposed to the coastal zones as originally defined in the California Coastal Act of 1976 are protected from the Equitable Incentives part of the bill (they clearly are not protected from the 4plex upzoning).  So for example, the Coastal Act specifically excludes  “the area of jurisdiction of the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission” and otherwise extends inland from the sea by varying distances from 1000 yards to 5 miles inland from the high tide rise.  There are a whole set of ordinances, local plans and Coastal Commission regulations that have expanded the protections of the Coastal Act to parcels not strictly within the original state definition and SB 50 pretty clearly limits coastal zone protection to parcels “within a coastal zone, as defined in Division 20 (commencing with Section 30000) of the Public Resources Code.”  Section 65918.52(b)(2).

In addition to the ambiguity on local coastal protection, SB 50 seems to allow “equitable incentives” and upzoning on parcels within coastal city limits unless the specific parcel is within the state-defined coastal zone.  So, for example, the cities of Malibu, Del Mar, Cambria, Sausalito, Carmel-by-the-Sea, Mendocino, or Eureka may not have 50,000 inhabitants (or anything close to that number) but the protection against fourplex upzoning for “neighborhood multifamily projects” is gone for any unincorporated areas where the “‘local agency’ has a population of 50,000 or more”. Fun fact: the ONLY coastal county that has a population of less than 50,000 is Del Norte, the northernmost county at the border with Oregon.
The amendments that Senator Wiener is likely to tout:
There appears to be some effort to get rid of the “McMansion” criticism by limiting the “equitable communities incentives” to “multifamily” developments but since there is no clear incorporation of the two plus family requirement, the fix is flawed in a number of ways.  I will send out additional emails but in brief, nothing stops a McMansion with a “staff” or “caretaker” cottage from benefitting from the upzoning.  There Is not a single like of “affordable” housing until you hit more than 10 multifamily units so all this luxury upzoning remains a gift to the real estate development industry.
There is an effort to provide for “local control” by exempting jurisdictions that have adopted a “local flexibility plan” that has been certified by HCD over the next 18 months (just enough to squeak past the next election).  But like the provisions on “sensitive communities” the provisions create a “heads I win, tails you lose” scenario.  The plan has to have the same effect and results as SB 50 and has to be certified as doing so by the State HCD.  Not any real change.

So not only do local agencies face absurd RHNA numbers from HCD but if SB 50 passes, will face absurd requirements for a local plan as conditions to HCD certification.

SB 50 as amended lost Senator Stone as a co-author but picked up Senator Roth and Assemblymember Quirk-Silva as co-authors.


Please focus on Senate Appropriations Committee, Governor Newsom, and your own senators and assemblymembers  for now.  Contact Information for Senate Appropriations Committee, other leadership and the Governor:

1.  Senator Anthony Portantino:  
Capitol Office
State Capitol, Room 3086
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (916) 651-4025
Fax: (916) 651-492
Brendan P. Hughes, Chief of Staff
Tara McGee, Legislative Director
Ben Edelstein, Legislative Aide
Rhiannon Ripley, Administrative Assistant
Mardres Story, Scheduler Glendale District Office
116 E. Broadway, Suite 204
Glendale, CA 91205
Phone: (818) 409-0400
Fax: (818) 409-1256
Talin Mangioglu, District Director
Darla Dyson, District Representative
Vickere Murphy, District Representative
Arda Tchakian, District Representative
Dominick Correy, District Represenative
David Kim, District Representative
Satellite Office
201 East Bonita Ave
San Dimas, CA 91773
Phone: (909) 599-7351
Fax: (909) 599-7692
Kristi Lopez, District Representative
Marco Lundgren, District Representative 2.  Senator Jerry Hill
Send an e-mail
Capitol Office
State Capitol, Room 5035
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (916) 651-4013
Fax: (916) 651-4913
District Office
1528 South El Camino Real, Suite 303
San Mateo, CA 94402
Phone: (650) 212-3313
Fax: (650) 212-3320 3.  Senator Stephen Bradford
Capitol Office 
State Capitol, Room 2059
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (916) 651-4035
Fax: (916) 651-4935
Inglewood District Office 
1 Manchester Blvd, Suite 600
Inglewood,  CA  90301
Phone:  (310) 412-6120
Fax:  (310) 412-6125
San Pedro District Office 
302 W. 5th, Suite 203
San Pedro,  CA  90731
Phone:  (310) 514-8573
Office Hours: M, W, Th – 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. 4.  Senator Maria Elena Durazo
Capitol Office:

State Capitol, Room 5066
Sacramento, CA 95814
Tel: (916) 651-4024
Fax: (916) 651-4924
District Office:
1808 W. Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90026
Tel: (213) 483-9300
Fax: (213) 483-9305 5.  Senator Brian Jones
Capitol Office

State Capitol, Room 4088
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (916) 651-4038
Fax: (916) 651-4938
El Cajon Office
500 Fesler Street #201
El Cajon, CA 92020
Phone: (619) 596-3136
Fax: (619) 596-3140
Escondido Office
720 North Broadway #110
Escondido, CA 92025
Phone: (760) 796-4655
Fax: (760) 796-4658 6.  Senator Bob Wieckowski
Email Bob
Capitol Office
State Capitol, Room 4085
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone:(916) 651-4010
Fax: (916) 651-4910
Fremont District Office
39510 Paseo Padre Parkway, Suite 280
Fremont, CA 94538
Phone: (510) 794-3900 7.  Senator Pat Bates
State Capitol, Room 3048
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: 916.651.4036 Fax: 916.651.4936
Orange County 
24031 El Toro Road, Suite 201A
Laguna Hills, CA 92653
Phone: 949.598.5850
San Diego County 
169 Saxony Road, Suite 103
Encinitas, CA 92024
Phone: 760.642.0809
Fax: 760.642.0814 8.  Senator Toni Atkins (President Pro Tem)
Capitol Office

State Capitol, Room 205
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (916) 651-4039
Fax: (916) 651-4939
San Diego District Office
1350 Front Street, Suite 4061
San Diego, CA 92101
Phone: (619) 645-3133
Fax: (619) 645-3144 9.  Governor Gavin Newsom:
Office of Governor Gavin Newsom
State Capitol
Suite 1173, Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: 916/445-2841
Fax: 916/558-3160 DISCLAIMER:  Neither this email nor any other communication from me to you is legal advice or a legal opinion or any other rendition of legal services.  In communicating with you I am acting strictly in my capacity as a citizen and stakeholder and NOT as a lawyer.  I have not and would not accept an engagement to represent or counsel you or anyone else except pursuant to a specific written document signed by me and a client setting forth the terms of an agreement for legal services to be rendered delivered in person in a face to face meeting.  Neither you nor anyone else may rely upon any statements contained in this or any other email I may send whether as legal advice or otherwise.  I am acting as a volunteer disseminating my perspective on aspects of the political landscape as I see them and am not acting as a lawyer, representative or lobbyist.
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The High Resource Map below was created by the Dept of Housing & Community Development for use with housing legislation, most notably,  Senate Bill 50 (SB 50) in determining areas that will be subject to new density levels, height and set-back requrements, etc.  Essentially, SB 50 willl allow multi-family zoning in established single-family zoned neighborhoods.

SB 50 calls for the waiver of existing height limits and density levels to allow developers to build up to a minimum of 55ft within 1/4 mile of a transit hub (trolley and buses), and 45ft within 1/2 mile radius of the same.

SB50 is currently on hold in the Appropriations Committee until January 6, 2020.  We will re-open the OPPOSE petition once its again active.



High Density Opportunity Map


Dr. Peter Anderson, Chairperson of the Sierra Club in San Diego:  Review of sb50

You can use this tool to see if sb50 will wipe out your neighborhood.

All areas that are defined by sb50 are the same areas as passage of sb330 will remove ALL HEIGHT RESTRICTIONS.

SB50 Bill Analysis– Senator Wiener’s Analysis

Controversial State Bill Pushing Construction of Taller, Denser Housing Moves Forward  On 4/2/19, sb50 passed its first committee hurdle.


Critical Text RE Height Limits, Density from SB 50

sb50 changes height, density, and floor area ratios for TPAs & Jobs Rich areas:

(a) A residential development Any transit-rich or jobs-rich housing project that meets the criteria specified in Section 65918.52 shall receive, upon request, an equitable communities incentive as follows:

(1)Any eligible applicant shall receive the following:


(1) A waiver from maximum controls on density.


(2) A waiver from maximum minimum automobile parking requirements greater than 0.5 automobile parking spots per unit.


(3) Up to three incentives and concessions pursuant to subdivision (d) of Section 65915.


(b) An eligible applicant proposing a residential development that is located within a one-half mile radius, but outside a one-quarter mile radius, of a major transit stop and includes no less than ____ percent affordable housing unitsshall receive, in addition to the incentives specified in paragraph (1), subdivision (a), waivers from all of the following:


(1) Maximum height requirements less than 45 feet.


(2) Maximum FAR requirements less than 2.5.


(3) Notwithstanding subparagraph (B) of paragraph (1), any maximum automobile parking requirement.


(c) An eligible applicant proposing a residential development that is located within a one-quarter mile radius of a major transit and includes no less than ____ percent affordable housing units stop shall receive, in addition to the incentives specified in paragraph (1), subdivision (a), waivers from all of the following:


(1) Maximum height requirements less than 55 feet.


(2) Maximum FAR requirements less than 3.25.


(3) Notwithstanding subparagraph (B) of paragraph (1), (1) of subdivision (b), any maximum minimum automobile parking requirement.


(d) Notwithstanding any other law, for purposes of calculating any additional incentive or concession in accordance with Section 65915, the number of units in the residential development after applying the equitable communities incentive received pursuant to this chapter shall be used as the base density for calculating the incentive or concession under that section.


(e) An eligible applicant proposing a project that meets all of the requirements under Section 65913.4 may submit an application for streamlined, ministerial approval in accordance with that section.


(f) The local government may modify or expand the terms of an equitable communities incentive provided pursuant to this chapter, provided that the equitable communities incentive is consistent with, and meets the minimum standards specified in, this chapter. SB 50 Analysis_FINAL SB 50 Analysis_FINALp2
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