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Oceanside housing
A row of townhouses in North County. File photo
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Commentary: State housing bills threaten coastal communities

Our communities are under threat. The state is using its legislative power to shift development authority away from the public and our local cities to the state.

Historically, such power has resided with cities for a reason. Local control allows residents a stronger voice on residential development through public comments, hearings and city review processes, which through Senate Bill 9 and Assembly Bill 500 will largely cease.

Stripping away city oversight and local review and allowing developers a fast lane to expand the housing on one lot to up to four units will cause immeasurable and irreversible damage to our neighborhoods.

There no mandate for affordability in SB 9. SB 9 is unlikely to create more affordable housing in coastal areas as any property will be sold at market rate and the developers must cover construction, demolition, re-landscaping costs…as well as the main goal of any business — their profit.

This is a bonanza for developers but it comes at serious costs to the very fiber of our communities and our own lives.

Studies of expensive areas increasing density indicate that the result is not more affordable housing but only more dense expensive housing. They result in smaller spaces and crowded conditions but not smaller price tags.

What will be the result of allowing four homes to replace one, and with no requirements that parking is required? Congestion, noise, pollution, lack of street parking availability, over-taxed schools, roads and infrastructure.

This will destroy the quality of life for both owners and renters in the place where it matters most, our homes and their neighborhoods.

We are honestly shocked that state legislators we have elected are willing and able to so misrepresent us, especially in such a permanently damaging way. We’ve written to our senator, Toni Atkins, who is the author of SB 9, and Assemblymember Chris Ward (Solana Beach and south), who we believe also currently supports both bills. But more voices are needed.

One problem leading to laws that violate citizens’ wishes is representatives working in isolation, interpreting the voices of a few as the voices of all. As key bills are developed, citizens need to be informed clearly as to all impacts and then offer feedback.

Where city governance is affected, our cities can undertake the important role of keeping us informed. We were shocked to see Voice of San Diego using intensely personal attacks against one city that informed their residents — without bias — of pending bills.

This inflammatory, biased VOSD article was a vendetta, not journalism, and discourages the transparency we need.

SB 9 passed out of the California State Senate on May 26, with 28 of the 50 voting yes. If you will let your opinion be known quickly before these bills are passed through the Assembly, that could help.

Just google the Assemblymember for your city, for example, “Assemblymember Encinitas contact” to reach the contact page and write a brief comment. And also contact the governor. This is our chance to have our voices heard about both SB 9 and AB 500.

AB 500 also removes much local housing authority, subjecting housing development to the approval of the California Coastal Commission, an unelected appointed authority not directly answerable to the public.

Shocking but true.

If these bills, now on a fast track, become law, our lives will be permanently changed. And there will be no going back.

Judy Livingston
Solana Beach

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