The Los Angeles City Council this morning passed two motions submitted by Council District 5 representative Paul Koretz officially opposing state-level housing bills SB 9 and SB 10. As we’ve previously reported, the bills aim to increase housing production by allowing the construction of multi-family housing in areas currently zoned for lower density use. (SB 9 would allow construction of two units on any current single-family lot, as well as the ADU and Junior ADU currently allowed. It would also allow the splitting of current single family lots, both developable with up to two units and ADUs, which could result in as many as six units on a lot that currently holds just one home. And SB 10 would allow construction of up to 10 units per lot in some current single family neighborhoods near transit- and job-rich areas.)
While density advocates have praised the proposals as necessary to create enough new units to address our current housing shortage, there has also been a lot of opposition from affordable housing advocates who argue that because the bills do not require the construction of any affordable units, they’re simply “trickle-down” policies that would be a gift to market-rate developers. Opponents also say the bills would drive up land values, accelerate gentrification (especially in low income areas), and would make home ownership, and the economic benefit it provides, even less accessible to working class families than it is now.
In comments before the vote, City Council Member Nithya Raman said she does not support SB 9, but she does support SB 10 because it provides options to cities instead of mandates. That said, though, she also said Los Angeles needs to do much more to tackle our housing issues and “we haven’t been doing it.” She explained that a very large percentage of the city’s buildable land is locked down in single-family neighborhoods, especially in more resource-rich areas, which leaves too little developable land for the new housing we need, and forces most new construction into low income, lower resource areas. So more privileged districts like the one she represents, she said, “need to do more” to address our housing shortage…and allowing more multi-family development in resource-rich areas would be one way to do that. “I get a lot of calls from people who say ‘no,'” she said, “but I want to build a community of ‘yes.'”
In other council member comments, Mark Ridley-Thomas agreed with Raman that “we need to do more and we need to do it better” than we’ve been doing to address the housing question, but he said solutions also need to have “an eye to equity and sensitivity,” which these bills do not. Ridley-Thomas also decried the current polarization in many current housing discussions, and said that, in reality, “supporting this legislation doesn’t make you a YIMBY…and opposing it doesn’t make you a NIMBY ” — it’s much more complex than that. At the same time, however, he said that the current bills “are not the one-size-fits-all solution that we should embrace,” and that local control and local solutions – like the “right to housing” framework he introduced recently – would be much more useful.
Council Member Mike Bonin said he agrees with both Raman and Ridley-Thomas, and that he’s “getting really exhausted with the annual conversation we have about these bills from Sacramento.” Bonin said state legislators are trying to balance a “Rubik’s Cube” of interests when it comes to housing, but too often the proposed solutions originate with developers. Instead, said Bonin, “we should start with affordable housing advocates and build from there.” He said he agrees with Raman that SB 10 does give cities valuable options, but he says he still has reservations because of the bill’s opposition from environmental groups. Also, he said, while the racist history of much single-family zoning is undeniable, single-family home ownership has also, over the decades, provided working class families with a valuable way to build generational wealth. So he said he, too, favors local control and nuance in zoning…and “these two bills just ain’t it.”
Speaking after Bonin, Council Member Gil Cedillo turned out to be the lone voice firmly in support of both SB 9 and SB 10. Cedillo said he agrees that the bills are not perfect but that we need to start making some changes, and continuing to argue for the status quo is both unacceptable and will “maintain apartheid in the city.” “We can’t allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good,” he said.
But the discussion quickly veered back to opposition, as Council Member Paul Krekorian decried the bills as the kind of “trickle-down” legislation that originated with Ronald Reagan in the 1980s. “It was an absurd notion when Ronald Regan proposed it,” said Krekorian, and “it is an absurd proposition now.” He agreed with several other Council Members who said our city already has many of the tools it needs to fix our housing problems, and that we need to use those tools to find “solutions not mandates.” And both he and several others suggested that the city be more proactive at the state level and actually start suggesting new legislation that would focus more on affordable housing and allowing cities to craft their own solutions for their own neighborhoods.
Finally, Koretz, who introduced the motions being considered, said SB 9 and 10 do nothing to help our need for affordable housing, and will only enrich developers who will be allowed to build more and more market rate housing. He acknowledged that it’s easy to argue that the status quo isn’t working, but said that’s no reason to vote for bills that will only make things worse by focusing on the construction of luxury housing, and developments that will significantly reduce our urban tree canopy (which is found largely in low density neighborhoods). The solution to our housing problems, he said, should start with the defeat of these bills…and then work on new bills that will be appropriate for Los Angeles.
Wrapping up the discussion, Council president Nury Martinez also spoke in favor of local control over housing solutions, saying the state legislature “has lost its credibility on land use in Los Angeles,” and that if it really wants to help, it should talk to individual cities instead of issuing top-down rules.
The final votes were 12-1 (with Cedillo the opposing vote) to support Koretz’s motion expressing opposition to SB 9, and 11-2 (with Cedillo and Raman the opposing votes) to support Koretz’ motion expressing opposition to SB 10.
Great recap of the City Council vote and account of Opposition to SB9 & SB10. The latest State level versions of the “let’s recreate society socialists in our own likeness and insinuate ism, privilege and equity as the reasons to blow up R-1 neighborhoods. How about building on some of that farmland in the Central Coast and connecting some train lines?
Sorry, not everyone can afford to live everywhere. I wish I was writing this from my ocean-front Malibu house.
Leave it to our councilperson Nithya “Recall” Raman to punctuate the argument of what’s afoot here…..excerpted from your account of Nithya Raman’s own words as it relates to the district she serves!!…“I get a lot of calls from people who say ‘no,’” she said, “but I want to build a community of ‘yes.’” TRANSLATION That begins with knocking down your house CD-4 homeowners. How about we begin with Nithya Raman’s neighborhood in Silver Lake as an experimental cohort as she likes to say.
Nithya Raman: “I get a lot of calls from people who say ‘no,’” she said, “but I want to build a community of ‘yes.’”
We are supposed to have a representative government, in which politicians work FOR their constituents, not against their best interests. Raman thinks she knows better than us poor, deluded, taxpaying residents. She looks down on us as NIMBYs for wanting to preserve our historic neighborhoods and our (deteriorating) quality of life. It’s truly shocking that we have a Councilmember who goes against the will of those in her District to support SB 10, since SB 10 would do much to destroy it.
Wrong on homelessness, wrong on SB 10. Support the recall.
CD4 Representative Nithya Raman voted to support SB 10, which would allow 10-unit market rate apartments plus 4 ADUs (“granny flats”) built almost anywhere. SB 10 does this by empowering any city council to enact an SB 10 ordinance that overrides local zoning, state CEQA law, and a city’s General Plan. Placing high cost “market-rate” 10-unit apartments almost everywhere, regardless of traffic or environmental effects, will be disastrous for single family neighborhoods. Under SB 10, 14-unit market-rate apartment buildings (10 units plus 4 extra units known as “granny flats”) can be approved by city council on ANY land deemed “urban infill” under SB 10’s strangely expedient definition of infill. The mysteriously ambiguous term “urban infill”, as proposed in SB 10, is defined as any lot, either occupied by housing or vacant, in towns or cities either tiny or large, in mixed-use or residential areas, including single-family neighborhoods. So just about everywhere that isn’t already vertically dense is urban infill.
We need a Council representative who understands why we chose to live where we do. That isn’t Raman. SB10 will not address our real problems. This has nothing to do with the pathologies of (1)mental health, (2)drug use, (3)foster care, and (4) our penal system that we foolishly lump together under the heading of “homelessness.” We don’t have homelessness because we didn’t put up enough drywall and framing.
I am a Progressive and I voted for Raman. At first, I believed she should have time to settle into the job.
Her actions changed my mind.
– She contacted City Planning to remove height restrictions in Los Feliz. The neighbors had opposed this for years and were not consulted on this.
– She approved a 7/11 store, despite neighborhood opposition.
– Now she supports SB 10. During her campaign, she did not state her opinion on SB 10. Had I known she was a supporter. I would not have voted for her.
The pattern of her actions is that she says Yes to corporations but NO her constituents.
I regret voting for Raman and especially regret urging undecided voters to vote for her.
For those of you who voted for her at my urging, I apologize.
Raman Recall Suppporter
Thank you for doing what you do Nithya! I am glad you stand up for what you believe in. Continue the fight for humanity and compassion. Sometimes people don’t understand that their opinion is the minority especially when big changes are considered. Keep up the phenomenal work in a broken city system.
Despite all these trolls who don’t understand nuance or get upset when things don’t go their way, you rock!!! Life isn’t fair, you are just trying to make it fairer for all not for a few.