With one swoop of a pen, Governor Newsom has threatened the suburban lifestyle so many of us worked so hard and saved so carefully to enjoy. Like many others, my family moved to Chino over a decade ago in order to have a single-family home on a large lot. 

We appreciated the generously-spaced homes, the quiet residential streets, and the ability to have the room to grow a large garden, plant fruit and shade trees, and even keep horses in our backyard. 

We appreciated Chino’s dedication to its rural heritage and the rarity of being able to afford horse property that wasn’t all the way out in Norco. 

Our housing tract was built in the 1970s to accommodate horses and rural, low-density living. Prior to the duplex bill, the zoning allowed only one home per half-acre lot and allowed up to three horses per lot. 

We have a homeowners’ association that maintains community horse trails and a riding arena. 

Now, these lots have become highly desirable—not for their hard-to-find equestrian zoning, but for their large size that would accommodate up to four homes where there was only one before.  

We are already seeing prices in our neighborhood skyrocket, and we know that there are plans to construct accessory dwelling units (ADUs) on several of the lots already. And here’s something I’ve seen no discussion of at all—our neighborhood’s sewer lines, water lines, and electrical service lines were only designed to accommodate two homes per acre.  

What happens when we quadruple the load on all of them? Who will pay for the upgrading of these services?  

It’s only a matter of time before the previously-ample street parking on our once-quiet cul-de-sac becomes non-existent, my horse becomes stressed and terrified by the heavy construction equipment and noise of ADUs being built next to his corral, and the new tenants of the ADUs demanding that the horses must go because they can smell them. 

Not to mention the threat of a sewage backup into my home from the glut of ADUs and their output overloading the sewer lines.

Those of us who worked and saved for years to achieve our dream of the single-family-home lifestyle should not be forced to watch it disappear without having a say in the matter.  

I urge Chino residents to oppose this trampling of our rights. Once our beautiful, quiet, tree-lined single-family neighborhoods are gone, they will never come back.  

The “duplex bill” is wrong for the residents of Chino and Chino Hills, and I applaud Mayor Ulloa, the Chino City Council, the Chino Hills City Council, and the League of California Cities for opposing it.  

 

Jeri Burnside

Chino

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par913

THE CALIFORNIA HOME ACT

Senate Bill 9 is the product of a multi-year effort to develop solutions to address our state’s housing crisis. The Senate Housing Package of bills, ‘Building Opportunities for All,’ establishes opportunities to make real progressive and positive changes in our communities to strengthen the fabric of our neighborhoods with equity, inclusivity, and affordability.

• Provides options for homeowners to build intergenerational wealth. SB 9 provides more options for families to maintain and build intergenerational wealth a currency we know is crucial to combatting inequity and creating social mobility. The families who own these properties could provide affordable rental opportunities for other working families who may be struggling to find a rental home in their price range, or who may be looking for their own path to home ownership.

• Benefits homeowners NOT institutional investors. Recent amendments require a local agency to impose an owner-occupancy requirement as a condition of a homeowner receiving a ministerial lot split. This bill also prohibits the development of small subdivisions and prohibits ministerial lot splits on adjacent parcels by the same individual to prevent investor speculation. In fact, allowing for more neighborhood-scale housing in California’s communities actually curbs the market power of institutional investors. SB 9 prevents profiteers from evicting or displacing tenants by excluding properties where a tenant has resided in the past three years.

• Establishes a maximum number of units. Recent amendments clarify that this bill would allow no more than four units on what a single-family parcel is currently.

• Preserves historic neighborhoods. SB 9 excludes historic and landmark districts.

• Respects local control. Homeowners must comply with local zoning requirements when developing a duplex (height, floor area ratios, lot coverage etc.) as long as they do not physically preclude a lot split or duplex. This bill also allows locals to require a percolation test for any duplex proposed to be on septic tanks.

• Promotes strategic infill growth. Under this bill, the parcel must be located in a jurisdiction that is part of an urbanized area or urban cluster, as designated by the US Census. This means that it applies only to areas that meet certain population and density thresholds. It excludes the provisions of the bill being used in very high fire hazard severity zones, prime agriculture land, hazardous waste sites, earthquake zones, floodplains that do not have adequate mitigation, and others. At the end of the day, if local governments do not allow people to build homes in an area, then the bill does not apply.

What this bill does: Senate Bill 9 – the California Housing Opportunity and More Efficiency (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, preserves the environmental quality and the look of communities, and prevents tenants from being displaced. This legislation will enable homeowners to create intergenerational wealth and provide access to more rental and ownership options for working families who would otherwise be priced out of neighborhoods.

What’s different from last year: We took what was a good bill – which had widespread support in both the Senate and Assembly at the end of last year and on track to pass before it fell victim to the clock – and improved upon it since reintroducing it as SB 9 this year. We listened to concerns from homeowners, municipalities, and other stakeholders, and have incorporated many amendments make the bill stronger, clearer, and address those concerns. Because of all the variables that make a neighborhood what it is – size of lots, local ordinances, desire of homeowners to even use this option – not everyone will choose to do a lot split or turn their home into a duplex, just like not everyone added an ADU when that good law was enacted.

MYTHS VS. FACTS

What this bill does: Senate Bill 9 – the California Housing Opportunity and More Efficiency (HOME) Act streamlines the process for a homeowner to create a duplex or subdivide an existing lot. To be eligible for the streamlining provided by this bill, a parcel must meet a specific list of qualifications that protects historic districts, preserves the environmental quality and the look of communities, and prevents tenants from being displaced. This legislation will enable homeowners to create intergenerational wealth and provide access to more rental and ownership options for working families who would otherwise be priced out of neighborhoods.

What’s different from last year: We took what was a good bill – which had widespread support in both the Senate and Assembly at the end of last year and was on track to pass before it fell victim to the clock – and improved upon it since reintroducing it as SB 9 this year. We listened to concerns from homeowners, municipalities, and other stakeholders, and have incorporated many amendments to make the bill stronger, clearer, and address those concerns.

Myth: My neighbors are going to be able to build 5 or 6-units next door to my single-family home.

Fact: SB 9 would allow no more than four units on what a single-family parcel is currently. This bill encourages neighborhood scale homes – meaning modifications to a property need to be in keeping with the look of the neighborhood.

Myth: This is going to ruin the look of our neighborhood.

Fact: In many communities across California – including in San Diego – there are beautiful duplexes and triplexes next door to traditional single-family homes. Look at Linda Vista, Hillcrest, North Park – these are communities central to the city and job centers that are coveted places to live. In fact, many are beautiful and well-kept, providing not only a bright spot on the street but a comfortable place for not just one but two households to call home.

Myth: This bill won’t help expand housing options that are more affordable and help real people.

Fact: The HOME Act builds intergenerational wealth. For homeowners, it provides more options to maintain and build intergenerational wealth – a currency we know is crucial to combatting inequity and creating social mobility. There is no silver bullet to solving the housing crisis that has been decades in the making. SB 9 is one modest tool in the toolbox. This bill allows for more types of housing to create more equitable and inclusive neighborhoods.

Myth: This is a land grab by institutional investors looking to ruin our neighborhoods.

Fact: This bill benefits homeowners, and homeowners alone. SB 9 contains an owner-occupancy requirement, which requires a homeowner to live in one of the units for three years from the time they get approval for a lot split. Additionally, this bill prohibits the development of small subdivisions and prohibits ministerial lot splits on adjacent parcels by the same individual to prevent investor speculation. In fact, allowing for more neighborhood-scale housing in California’s communities actually curbs the market power of institutional investors. SB 9 also prevents profiteers from evicting or displacing tenants by excluding properties where a tenant has resided in the past three years.

Myth: This bill will destroy historic neighborhoods.

Fact: SB 9 excludes historic and landmark districts.

Myth: This will change local control of land-use decisions.

Fact: Homeowners must comply with local zoning requirements when developing a duplex (height, floor area ratios, lot coverage, etc.) as long as they do not physically preclude a duplex. This bill also allows locals to require a percolation test for any duplex proposed to be on septic tanks.

Myth: Under SB 9, a lot split requires a single family home to be demolished.

Fact: This bill provides options for homeowners and does NOT require any demolition. SB 9 contains strong tenant protections to ensure rental housing is not demolished. A recent study shows that the additional housing options provided by SB 9 actually decrease the likelihood of a single-family home being torn down and replaced by a larger single-family home. Additionally, nearly 97% of all single-family homes would be retained under SB 9. This bill is one way to help solve the state’s housing production crisis. SB 9 provides more pathways to homeownership and expands access to the California dream.

Myth: This bill does not take into consideration environmental and infrastructure concerns.

Fact: Under this bill, the parcel must be located in a jurisdiction that is part of an urbanized area or urban cluster, as designated by the US Census. This means that it applies only to areas that meet certain population and density thresholds. It excludes very high fire hazard severity zones, prime agriculture land, hazardous waste sites, earthquake zones, floodplains that do not have adequate mitigation, and others. At the end of the day, if local governments do not allow people to build homes in an area, then the bill does not apply. Additionally, SB 9 does NOT make any changes to existing law, which specifies a local agency’s ability to impose impact fees.

Lora Guerrero

par913

The housing reform bill would right some of redlining’s wrongs

More affordable housing would give more people more choice about where to live.

Misperceptions about proposed land use reforms in Senate Bill 9 — which would make it legal to build duplexes in California — paint an entirely inaccurate picture of developers rushing into the middle- and working-class communities of color to tear down homes and build expensive apartments in their place. On the contrary, the bill is designed to allow people of color to move to exist high-opportunity neighborhoods by making them more affordable and accessible and to enable new generations to stay in existing neighborhoods by creating more affordable new homeownership opportunities. SB 9 helps restore the core of what decades of segregation through bans on housing has taken away: the right to choose where you can live.

Redlining is a California-born and -bred problem. Decades of segregation continue to play out in cities throughout the state. It’s time to build a more inclusive California, one where middle-income families can buy a home that doesn’t cost $750,000 (the state’s median home price); where families can find lower-priced housing in neighborhoods with good schools, convenient transit and parks; and where people have the option to buy a home in the neighborhood where they grew up.

The argument that allowing for lower-cost homes will force Black families out and lead to gentrification isn’t true. SB 9 would protect renters from displacement by prohibiting the disruption of existing affordable housing, rent-controlled housing or housing recently leased to a tenant. It also would expand opportunities for multigenerational housing by allowing homeowners to build a modest unit on their property so an aging parent or adult child can continue to live there affordably, and the family can continue to pass on financial security and equity in their home. This is particularly important in Black neighborhoods such as southwest Fresno, where I was raised and where my family continues to live. Here, and in the few neighborhoods like it throughout California where Black families were historically allowed to buy property, homes have been passed down to children and grandchildren and families remain close. Maintaining this dynamic is key to preserving neighborhoods that have strong cultural and community ties.

Fresno’s Anti-Displacement Task Force last week released a blueprint to address displacement issues that can serve as a guide for other cities. Among the key recommendations in Here to Stay: a community land trust fiscal contribution to be established on an annual basis to create affordable housing that remains affordable; a mandatory impact area notification system to notify all residents located in areas most likely to be affected by a proposed development project; rent stabilization, conversion restrictions, and an ”affordable in perpetuity” designation to achieve long-term housing stability; eviction right-to-counsel; and the establishment of tax increment financing to pay for implementation of anti-displacement policies and programs.

By creating up to 800,000 new, smaller, lower-cost homes that fit within existing neighborhoods of all types, SB 9 would make it possible for more families to afford to own homes in the neighborhoods they chose (including those where they currently live) and for more lower- and middle-income families to be able to live in well-resourced neighborhoods. It also would protect current renters from displacement.

By urging legislators to support SB 9, we can simultaneously unlock the door to homeownership for more Californians while respecting and protecting the intrinsic value of established communities of color. All Californians should have an equal chance to seek out the best opportunities for their families and children, as well as an opportunity to build wealth. Let’s not allow misinformation to keep us tied to housing policy that is rooted in and that perpetuates racial inequity and limited opportunity.

Paul Rodriguez

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