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Solana Beach passes ordinance to control construction under SB 9
Solana Beach’s new allows two appropriately sized units on each lot and requires one parking space per unit. Courtesy photo
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Solana Beach ordinance regulates new construction under SB 9

SOLANA BEACH — The Solana Beach City Council earlier this month approved an ordinance aimed at regulating new construction under California’s Senate Bill 9, allowing the city to set its own standards within the parameters of the controversial state housing law.

Officially passed in September, SB 9, authored by Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), allows up to four units and a total of eight market-rate units on lots that are currently zoned for single-family housing.

Developers are not required to pay for any infrastructure improvements to those lots. Under state law, property owners can create a duplex or subdivide the property into two lots and build up to two units on each lot for a maximum of four units.

Solana Beach’s Ordinance 521 allows two 825-square-foot units up to 16-feet in height on each lot and requires one parking space per unit. These are standards that meet the parameters outlined in SB 9.

Mayor Lesa Heebner, who has been outspoken about her criticism of SB 9, said this ordinance will also encourage affordability.

“It’s important to me, to the council and to our community, that our community priorities are also honored in the way [SB 9] is implemented. We’ve been trying to get some sort of moderate and lower-income housing, and the only way we can accomplish that since SB 9 does not mandate any affordability, is to use the phrasing that’s in SB 9 and choose 825 square feet so that square footage might be what helps us produce some probably moderately priced housing.”

According to Heebner, SB 9 up-zoned single-family lots across the state, making them more expensive. By capping the square footage, the city hopes to create the best opportunity to provide moderately priced homes at 825 square feet, as larger homes “have no reasonable expectation of being affordable.”

“What we’re hoping to do is make sure that the people who do take advantage of SB 9 are those that have good intentions of providing for people who can live here, like somebody’s adult children, maybe a starter home that people can actually come here and live, rather than be outbid by speculators,” Heebner said.

She added that requiring at least one parking space per unit is essential in a coastal city that must provide off-street parking for visitors and ensure access to the city’s beaches.

The council received several public comments at its Dec. 8 meeting with many residents arguing that the ordinance is too restrictive and doesn’t allow for the building of larger homes.

Kristin Brinner, a Solana Beach resident, said the ordinance should be more flexible.

“It just doesn’t seem logical to limit someone to less than 50 percent of the square footage of housing area if they’re building a duplex compared to what they would get if they built a single home,” Brinner said. “We need more flexibility here so people can build homes for families.”

The council approved the resolution 5-0.

“Without this, we would end up overrun with development and it would be very sad because we’d have a lot more high-priced homes that locals could not afford, and we’d have more gentrification and people leaving our city than should be, that are the fabric of our community,” Councilwoman Jewel Edson said.

In North County, the San Marcos City Council recently approved a resolution in support of the “Brand-Huang-Mendoza Tripartisan Land Use Initiative,” a ballot initiative that if passed, would amend California’s constitution to allow local jurisdictions to override state housing laws, such as SB 9, in matters of land use and zoning regulations.

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