Carlsbad City Hall. Photo by Steve Puterski
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State housing legislation a concern for Carlsbad

CARLSBAD — The upcoming 2020 state legislative session expects to have many coastal cities on edge again.

Numerous bills were passed in 2019 aiming to reduce California’s housing crisis, however, several were either tabled or new bills are set to be introduced.

During its Nov. 12 meeting, the Carlsbad City Council addressed concerns, especially on Senate Bill 330 and its wide-ranging affects planning, zoning, density and more.

Jason Haber, assistant to the city manager, said city staff is currently working to understand the full scope of the new legislation. Another presentation, from staff and California Strategies & Advocacy, LLC., is expected early next year.

“There is so much in this agenda item that we could barely scratch the surface,” Mayor Matt Hall said. “There is so much, I don’t know where to begin. There’s so many different things in here. There is so much in here that dovetails into who we are and what we do. There hasn’t been anything that’s impacted this city to this level, to my knowledge, over the past 20 years.”

Concerns also swirled around density, or decreasing density and height, unless certain density redistribution thresholds are met, according to SB 330, the Housing Crisis Act of 2019, which sunsets in 2025. It also prohibits “subjective” design standards, while “objective” standards are allowed.

Hall said the city would unravel due to many of the new requirements under SB 330. One reason, he said, is because of the city’s increased housing numbers under the Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA).

Councilwoman Cori Schumacher said the bill is most likely to have the greatest impact, potentially a negative one, for Carlsbad.

“It’s probably the one that will affect us the most. It’s awful,” she said. “These bills are extremely complex and we will be reviewing how they impact the city.”

Senate Bill 50 by Scott Weiner (D-San Francisco) is another highly controversial bill centered on density and has potential impacts up and down the state. SB 50, which will return for the 2020 session, has the council on edge as passage of such a bill could also drastically alter the look and feel of the city.

Schumacher noted SB 50 will come back and the 2020 legislative session will be a “whopper” regarding housing and all it encompasses.

“I have plenty to say about how the lack of trust in local elected officials in community is not something I support,” she added. “That’s putting it lightly. The more our community and the more we understand as policy makers this space moving forward, the better able we are going to be able to push back.”

According to Monique Ramos of CSA, Gov. Gavin Newsom approved a $1.75 billion investment in new housing as part of the 2019-20 state budget. Included in the budget, $750 million is dedicated in supports and incentives, with $500 million for the Infill Infrastructure Grant Program and $250 million for the Local Government Planning Supports Grant Program.

Another $500 million is planned for tax credits, $500 million for the state housing loan program for low- and moderate-income housing and $20 million for one-time money for legal assistance for renters. Newsom also approved a $1 billion investment to address homelessness, Ramos said.

Other issues slated for the legislative session include another bill regarding accessory dwelling units (ADUs or granny flats) and increasing the number of ADUs allowed on one lot (Assembly Bill 68); possible reform of the California Environmental Quality Act; local taxes on housing; tenant protections; and streamline local housing decisions, to name a few.

With tenant protections under AB 1482, the Tenant Protection Act of 2019, it places an upper limit of annual rent increases to 5% plus inflation. Also, landlords must have and state a just cause to evict tenants who have occupied the residence for one year or more. Exemptions include housing built in the past 15 years, single-family residences unless owned by a real estate trust or corporation and all duplexes in which the owner occupies one of the units.

“The city of Sacramento and county attempted to implement this bill early because landlords were going to increase rent and push people out … before the end of the year,” Ramos said. “There’s been a lot of unintended consequences. I think that, for this short-term period, the smaller homeowners who had the singular homes or limited number of homes feel a little bit more resolved. We’ve yet to see what will happen with the larger real estate trusts.”

AB 68, introduced by Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), would also prohibit local governments from passing an ordinance from imposing requirements on minimum lot sizes to allow ADUs, setting maximum ADU dimensions not permitting an ADU of 850 square feet for one or fewer bedrooms and 1,000 square feet for two or more bedrooms.

AB 1730, meanwhile, has a local flavor as it would amend the timing the San Diego Association of Governments to deliver its next regional transportation plan to Dec. 31, 2021. The bill is authored by Assemblywoman Lorena Fletcher Gonzalez (D-San Diego).

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