Housing Bill SB 1120 Fails

Illustration of how SB1120 could change density in Baldwin Hills if passed into law. (image is from a presentation at a forum sponsored by the South LA Alliance for Locally Planned Growth in August)

In what everyone is calling a technical failure, the controversial housing bill SB1120 failed to pass the California legislature late last night. The bill was delayed until the last possible moment to gather support, but the clock quite literally ran out after it passed in the state Assembly, but the Senate had already adjourned for the session, so could not take a vote before the deadline.  (The bill had earlier passed the state Senate in June, 39 to 0, with one abstention, but it was required to come back to the Senate because it has since been amended.)

Today, the Los Angeles Times reported:

 “A bill that would have allowed for duplexes on most single-family lots in California passed the Assembly late Monday night, but died when the year’s legislative session came to an end before the Senate could take it up for a vote.

After an initial attempt fell short of passage by three votes, the Assembly took a second look at Senate Bill 1120, passing it with a margin of 42 to 17, just one vote more than was needed and just three minutes before a midnight deadline to clear both houses.

But the bill did not reach the Senate with enough time for legislators to take it up, a spokeswoman for Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), the bill’s author, confirmed.”

As we previously reported, if passed, SB 1120 would allow current single-family homes to be divided, by right, into duplexes or replaced with new duplex construction.  And each of those homes would also, according to existing laws, be allowed up to two Accessory Dwelling Units, thus potentially allowing up to four units per lot.  In addition, current single family lots could be subdivided into two separate lots under the proposal, with each of those lots allowed to be improved with a duplex and ADUs, which could further expand capacity to eight units on lots that now hold a single family residence.

Widely seen as the successor to the equally controversial SB50, SB11820, authored by Senate President Pro-Tem Tony Atkins (D-San Diego) drew condemnation from many homeowner groups and local officials seeking to preserve control over local zoning.

“In the end, this bill died because the authors did not write a serious bill with serious ideas in it,” wrote Annie Gages, of Livable California in a message to homeowner groups that had opposed the bill, which was shared with the Buzz. “They had to exaggerate and obfuscate just to get it onto the Assembly floor. Very proud of the legislature today, Sept. 1, 2020!”

“California was on the cusp of passing significant housing reform last night, but the Legislature snatched defeat from the jaws of victory,” Brian Hanlon, President and CEO of California YIMBY, a group supporting the measure, stated in a press release issued today, placing positive slant on the loss. “Today we should be celebrating the fact that, despite vigorous opposition from affluent single-family homeowners in exclusive communities, a majority of Assemblymembers voted AYE on SB 1120.

While the bill may be dead for now, however, like SB50, SB1120 or some variation of it will likely return in the next legislative session.


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About Patricia Lombard

Patricia Lombard is the co-editor and publisher of the Larchmont Buzz. Patty lives with her family in Fremont Place. She has been active in neighborhood issues since moving here in 1989. Her pictorial history, "Larchmont" for Arcadia Press is available at Chevalier's Books.

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