Serving Larchmont Village, Hancock Park, and the Greater Wilshire neighborhoods of Los Angeles since 2011.

CD5 CM Paul Koretz Urges Opposition to State Housing Bills SB9, SB10 and SB478

Senator Scott Weiner (D-San Francisco) announced two more housing bills in a press conference with housing advocates in February.


The California state legislature is preparing to recess for a month at the end of the week. In advance of that recess, Los Angeles City Councilmember Paul Koretz released a letter earlier this week urging local residents to make calls and send emails to their legislators opposing the latest round of housing density bills proposed by Senator Scott Weiner and others. As we have reported, the bills would effectively eliminate single family housing zoning by encouraging significant increases in housing density in many current low-density neighborhoods.

In December of 2020, Councilmember Koretz introduced a motion to oppose these bills.  This is Koretz’s third motion opposing this type of state legislation. In the past, his motions were unanimously supported by his colleagues on the City Council, but not this time. This time, his motion has not come to the floor for discussion, reflecting a shift in the council’s makeup.  In fact, these state-level housing bills have become increasingly controversial among progressive Democrats who are seeking solutions for a growing homelessness crisis while balancing housing equity issues, including the position that the measures may promote gentrification of historic black communities.

At the same time, however, Koretz has been joined in opposition to the the current crop of state housing bills by United Neighbors, a new grassroots coalition of residential neighborhoods that have organized to make the case that more housing can be built without destroying single family homes. The group also argues that state mandated housing measures don’t adequately address our current housing crisis because they don’t mandate any affordable housing.

United Neighbors is working in tandem with Livable California, a statewide nonprofit that provides legislative analysis. Both groups are trying to stop what they call give aways to developers using the homelessness crisis to their advantage. They assert that one of the chief causes of our current housing crisis is not so much an overall shortage of housing, but, in particular, a shortage of affordable housing and an abundance of market rate housing, which is priced out of reach for an increasing number of residents. United Neighbors and Livable California say the solution lies in protecting renters, allowing cities to build affordable housing, and requiring Transit Oriented Community (TOC) developments to contain more affordable housing…not simply in building more and more housing, as the current state bills advocate.

On the other hand, Abundant HousingLA and California YIMBY, pro-housing construction and pro-density groups that helped draft these bills, say the legislation paves the way for more housing that is desperately needed to address the homelessness crisis. They also argue that dense high rise buildings, located near transit and job rich corridors, are better for the environment because people will drive less.  (That point is debated by preservationists, however, who argue that the greenest building is one that already exists, and who say the new bills don’t encourage any adaptive reuse or development in commercial corridors with empty office buildings.)

Meanwhile, Koretz communicated his strong opposition to the latest crop of state bills in a recent letter to his constituents, urging them to speak up now before it’s too late. In the letter, he said:



Are we going to stand idly by and let the Big Developers convince the state legislature to destroy our single-family neighborhoods, create parking nightmares and make it even harder to solve the homelessness crisis than it already is?!

For the third year in a row the state legislature is considering bills that let developers destroy thriving single-family and low-density neighborhoods to build luxury apartments without yards or garages. Most importantly, these bills do so without actually addressing the real need Los Angeles and the rest of the state have for genuine affordable housing.


SB 9, SB 10 and SB 478 promote the failed theory that dense, pricey housing will eventually help the poor. But it never does. Trickle-down affordability has failed everywhere it’s been used as an excuse to build new luxury housing. Prices, displacement and homelessness just increase and cities that already are among the most expensive in the world become even more expensive. With all that evidence, only people trying to pull the wool over our eyes claim that building new, over-priced housing is going to magically create affordable housing.


Here are the bills, all of which could be voted on by the full Assembly as early as this Monday:

SB 9: This divisive bill, the worst of the three, has died in two previous iterations in past years. It destroys single-family zoning in California, presenting a threat to seven million homeowners and 21 million residents in those homes. SB 9 allows four market-rate homes where one now stands, and six units when developer/investors use a trick that is hidden in SB 9. No public hearings are allowed. No affordable units are required. No open space is required. Required parking for the market-rate and luxury units it incentivizes is woefully inadequate. This will victimize any neighborhood where a developer can afford to buy property without doing one thing to legitimately solve our housing crisis.

SB 10: This bill, this year’s version of similar past bills which barely failed, was approved by the state Senate in May, but not before Senate Majority Leader Bob Hertzberg’s withering criticism of it as a “gun” and not a “tool.” SB 10 allows city councils to override zoning and CEQA, to allow 10-unit projects with four “granny flats,” again with no commitment to affordability. These 14-unit projects are allowed in almost all neighborhoods with no hearings. It undoes voters’ 110-year-old right to self-determine land use policies, letting any city council undo voter-approved land protection — like height limits on commercial towers on our major boulevards. It allows cities to upzone Very High Fire Severity Zones for 14-unit projects if, for example, they’re anywhere near a bus line.

SB 478: This bill allows a developer to build 14 luxury housing units — 10 units plus four granny flats — on any multi-family street, or in any mixed-use district. Cities would be banned from imposing any local standard, such as a yard, that precludes a building size based on a 1.25 floor-area ratio and, yet again, it requires no affordable housing. It will discourage the retention of trees and open space, thus contributing to destructive climate change. It replicates a “missing middle” density policy which has failed in other cities such Seattle, Toronto and Vancouver, where all housing has simply become less affordable. And it applies to all “urbanized areas” and “urban clusters,” which encompasses even modestly-sized cities such as San Fernando and Culver City, and prohibits unique towns, villages and cities from doing their own planning.



In the past, LA City Councilmembers have been come together to preserve local control over residential zoning and planning, but – as noted above – since the last city council elections, there is now more dissention among seated Councilmembers. In May, CD 4 representative Nithya Raman said she opposes SB9 because it does not include any requirement for affordable housing, but she expressed support for  SB 10, which would give cities the option to zone any parcel for up to 10 units of residential density.  Raman said that while she would not support these policies for Los Angeles, she believes other cities should have the choice to adopt them, which SB 10 would provide.

According to Raman’s position paper:


“[SB9] would require cites to allow for the ministerial consideration of duplexes and lot splitting in residential zones. It contains a number of protections and exemptions, including prohibitions on the demolition of affordable housing, more than 25% of an existing structure’s exterior walls, and any development within historic districts, and it exempts such projects from the environmental review process known as CEQA (Source: California Legislative Information).

Our office supports efforts to allow for modest density increases and increased rental opportunities in historically exclusionary, high-resource neighborhoods, though we believe high fire-risk hillsides should be explicitly exempted. Smaller units on smaller lots would present modestly more affordable options for renters than a single-family home of two to four times the square footage, but there are no provisions in this bill that mandate new units be set aside as affordable for renters with incomes at or below the Area Median Income, nor is there a mechanism to exempt neighborhoods experiencing high displacement pressures. Position: Oppose”


Meanwhile, on SB10, Raman said:


“[SB10] would allow local governments to adopt an ordinance to zone any parcel for up to 10 units of residential density per parcel, at a height specified in the ordinance, if the parcel is located in a transit-rich area, a jobs-rich area, or an urban infill site. It would also require the Department of Housing and Community Development, in consultation with the Office of Planning and Research, to determine jobs-rich areas and publish a map of those areas every 5 years, commencing January 1, 2023, based on specified criteria (Source: California Legislative Information).

Our office supports efforts to increase density in transit-rich and jobs-rich parts of our city, but doesn’t support a law zoning all parcels for up to 10 units for Los Angeles. This state bill does not require that cities do anything, however — it just gives them the option. While we don’t support this move for Los Angeles, we don’t believe other cities in California should be precluded from considering it.”


Last we heard, these bills are being held over and are likely to come up when the legislative session resumes August 16.


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Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard is the 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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