Position on SB9

Solana Beach and California have a severe shortage of middle-income housing. The absence of such housing is driving the displacement and severe rent burden of Californians across the state. As city councilor, I will work to create opportunities for all generations to live and flourish in Solana Beach.

 

In response to this housing crisis and the need for more equitable housing opportunities, State Bill 9 (The California Housing Opportunity and More Efficiency (HOME) Act) was passed in 2021. The HOME Act streamlines the process for a homeowner to create a duplex or subdivide an existing lot. Any new housing created as a result of this bill must meet a specific list of qualifications that:

 

  • Protects historic districts

  • Prevents tenants from being displaced

  • Preserves environmental quality and the look of communities 

  • Prevents the further spread of short-term rentals

 

In 2021, the city implemented The HOME Act by adopting Ordinance 521 to amend its municipal code. The city put limitations on where and how homeowners could subdivide their lots:

 

  • Two-unit residential developments shall be permitted in the (ER-1), (ER-2), (LR), and (LMR) zones (17.20.020 Permitted uses and structures. E. Two-Unit Residential Developments.)

  • Homes built through the subdivision of lots may only be between 800-825 ft2 in size. 

  • Per the regulations of the state bill, homes built through this lot subdivision process shall be set back 4 ft from the side and rear lot lines.

Putting such extreme limits on the use of this ordinance will not ensure that it promotes the construction of affordable housing - it will only ensure that no one uses this ordinance to build housing in our city.

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I believe the 825 square foot (ft2) limit on new homes built through the subdivision of a lot is too small for the typical family of four and therefore will prevent anyone from employing this as an option to provide housing for their family and neighbors. While The HOME Act itself stated that new homes cannot be smaller than 800 ft2, the city limited new homes to a maximum of 825 ft2 without taking into consideration the parcel’s size or the number of units being built on the parcel. 

 

There are a number of ways that we could encourage the development of more attainable housing under Ordinance 521, including:

  1. Allowances for construction of additional square footage if the development respects the setbacks already established for single family homes, rather than the 4 ft setbacks outlined currently by the ordinance. 

  2. Allowances for additional square footage if deed restrictions for affordable housing are put in place for the proposed construction.

As part of a group of engaged citizens, I submitted a series of letters with suggested improvements to Ordinance 521. We were disappointed that Council was unwilling to discuss our concerns and City Council has remained unresponsive about revisiting this important issue. However we hope that this is not the end of this conversation. Clearly the community is not yet in agreement on how to implement The HOME Act. More than 20 residents submitted letters opposing Ordinance 521, while only six residents submitted letters supporting it. To say that the community overwhelmingly supported Ordinance 521 simply does not reflect the reality of the situation. 

 

Why has the city held multiple community workshops for important projects such as the tot lot improvements or a possible pocket park on Glencrest, but did not hold a single outreach or workshop for this important change to the city’s municipal code? 

 

If you are looking for an independent analysis of Solana Beach’s implementation of SB9, the Homestead website gave Solana Beach a D and also provides an excellent breakdown of our city’s local implementation.

 

What do you think? Where do you think our community would most benefit from additional housing opportunities? Drop us a note at sbd2@kristinbrinner.com - we always want to hear from you.

As additional information, this is a rough drawing of District 2 in Solana Beach and the zones where subdivisions are permitted per this change to the zoning ordinances:

District 2 outlined over zoning map.jpg