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Carlsbad City Hall. Photo by Steve Puterski
Carlsbad City Hall. Photo by Steve Puterski
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Carlsbad adjusting to new housing laws

CARLSBAD — Carlsbad City Council discussed Senate Bill 330 at length during its Jan. 21 special meeting; including how the law generally takes away much of a city’s authority in approving new developments.

Due to a massive shortage of housing, the state legislature passed SB 330, the Housing Crisis Act of 2019, to address those shortfalls. For cities and counties, though, the new law, which sunsets in 2025, could have significant implications regarding growth management plans in those municipalities.

“The legislature has passed a slate of new laws that has the potential to significantly impact the way we do business,” City Attorney Celia Brewer said. “This year, we didn’t get a budget, staff or instruction manual (from the state).”

The city is working with the Sohagi Law Group to navigate the new laws, especially SB 330.

The primary purpose of the bill is to expedite construction of new housing. The Legislature has declared that California needs an estimated 180,000 additional homes annually to keep up with population growth and that the governor has called for 3.5 million new homes to be built over the next seven years, according to the staff report.

Margaret Sohagi, the managing partner at the law firm, said in addition to SB 330, five other pieces of legislation were passed targeting the housing crisis. Those new laws, she said, drastically alter what cities can and cannot do regarding residential developments.

“For example, you could not have a city ordinance that sets a maximum of 700 square feet for one bedroom,” she said regarding accessory dwelling units (ADUs). “You got to make it up to that 850. You couldn’t set 900 for a two bedroom. It’s too small.”

Over the last 10 years, the state has only been constructing 80,000 homes per year. Attorney Tyson Sohagi said the intent is the same as the new ADU law, which allows for more aggressive development.

“It’s not just the need to provide housing,” he said. “It’s not just the economic consequences, it’s the environmental consequences in not approving.”

As for ADUs, junior ADUs are ministerial in nature and are not subject to public hearing. The city must allow ADUs in single-family and multiple-family zones subject to limited exceptions.

The city is also prohibited from enacting a development policy with the effect of “imposing a moratorium or similar restriction or limitation on housing development.” Any mortarium must be approved by the California Department Housing and Community Development, Tyson Sohagi said.

He said the biggest challenge may be a new application process for the city.

“This is designed to be a first step in the application process,” Tyson Sohagi said. “The city is required only to utilize the questions provided by the statute. There are some exceptions to this vesting and does not apply to automatic fees.”

SB 330 also limits regulations for permits and hearings on developments, reducing residential density and also address historical locations.

Deputy City Manager Gary Barberio said the city must reach a number of aggressive timelines, but while those processes and procedures are not in place, city staff is working to get those in place.

2 comments

Robert MDaii February 2, 2020 at 8:08 pm

Let free markets reign. The state , county an local governments are screw-ups, who don’t know better than the free.

Steveinsandiego January 31, 2020 at 3:35 pm

I’m a fan of old movies, particularly from the 40s. These new laws remind me of the midrise apt buildings one sees in nyc in those old films: ridiculously high density and not so ‘kempt’, yet neither will make housing more affordable. Jmhofwiw.
Where i live 600sf adus have been legal for sometime, costing c. $200K to build, renting for upwards of $1600/month. That will not solve the housing crunch. The only solution i see in CA is low-inc apts, subsidized by the govt, and not such a bad deal for the owner and/or builder. Of course, “subsidized” ALWAYS means the taxpayers eventually cough up a portion of the dough.

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