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Let Inga Tell You: These bills have way too high a cost for single-family neighborhoods, traffic and parking

The Bird Rock Community Council sees a slide in July showing development that could occur under state Senate Bills 9 and 10.
La Jollan Stephanie Steinberg shared a slide with the Bird Rock Community Council in July showing development that could occur under state Senate Bills 9 and 10.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

Until this year, I had a personal vendetta against the proliferation of McMansions in my area.

But I’ve decided I can live with a lot of McMansions if state Senate Bill 9 and Senate Bill 10 could be defeated — or greatly modified — before or when they arrive on the governor’s desk for a final decision no later than Oct. 10. Both bills attempt to fix California’s housing shortage by rezoning single-family lots to allow for duplexes and more. Yes, this means the lot next to you.

In my view, these bills would destroy the character of single-family neighborhoods, create density that we don’t have the infrastructure to handle, worsen gridlock on La Jolla’s already traffic-jammed streets and ensure there is no parking anywhere.

While the bills apply to all of California, regardless of proximity to public transit, La Jolla is especially impacted because the Draconian rezoning changes of SB 9 and SB 10 have no onsite parking requirements for new construction within a half-mile of a transit corridor, or TPA (transport priority area). For us, that means the No. 30 bus route.

Let me just say that my husband and I are huge fans of public transit, including and especially buses. When we lived in Sweden, we never owned a car. If we had that kind of public transportation here, we’d sell our autos in a heartbeat.

The buses and T-banas (subways) in Stockholm run to the minute in virtually any weather. It helped hugely that buses have their own traffic lanes. Here, the buses are stuck in the same gridlocked traffic as cars. While Stockholm is a smaller city (1.6 million residents) than San Diego, it has made public transportation faster, easier, cheaper and more convenient than owning a car. Can we say that about any city in California, except possibly San Francisco?

When we returned to the United States, my husband originally tried to take the No. 30 bus to work but finally gave up when, most days, he had to walk back home and drive when the bus was so late there was no hope of him getting to work on time.

Pay attention, folks, because there are quite a few acronyms involved here. There will be a quiz at the end. Fail it and you could end up with 10 housing units next door.

SB 9 (sponsored by San Diego state Sen. Toni Atkins of District 39) would permit a current single-family lot to include two housing units or a duplex in addition to a 1,200-square-foot accessory dwelling unit (ADU, aka “granny flat”) and one 500-square-foot junior accessory dwelling unit (JADU). An alternative configuration would split a current single-family lot into two lots with two housing units or a duplex plus an ADU on each of those lots.

SB 10 (co-authored by Atkins) would allow a current single-family lot to be converted to 10 units plus two ADUs and two JADUs.

Neither bill addresses infrastructure upgrades or improvements to accommodate this increased density, and no California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) review is required. It overrides CC&Rs and most local controls. Only 4-foot setbacks side and rear would be mandated. Imagine the impact on local schools as density is increased two- or three-fold.

There would be a huge loss of permeable ground needed to absorb water, never mind the tree canopy that offers shade and cleans our air.

The lack of requirement for parking if construction is within a half-mile of public transit assumes, of course, that people living in those zones will be taking the bus.

I’m just trying to imagine getting parents to work and kids to school and assorted sports practices on our current bus system. I hope Atkins will sponsor SB 11 excusing all state citizens from arriving pretty much anyplace on time.

Would SB 9 and SB 10 really improve the housing shortage? Or in La Jolla’s case, are we just adding to the supply of short-term vacation rentals and/or out-of-reach housing? There is no requirement for the oxymoronic “affordable housing.” Both bills are huge boons to developers.

Go to NeighborsForABetterSandiego.org or unitedneighbors.net for more details. And let our state representatives know your opinion — Atkins at sd39.senate.ca.gov/contact and our state Assembly member for District 78, Christopher Ward, at a78.asmdc.org/contact.

Gov. Gavin Newsom has the power to veto these bills, so contact him, too.

If you don’t act now, your SFD along a TPA could be surrounded by MFDs, ADUs and JADUs without any CEQA. And the LJCPA is powerless to do anything about it!

As for you, much-maligned, chronically late No. 30 little bus that couldn’t, that’s a lot of pressure to put on your natural-gas-powered wheels. You must be dumbfounded that your mere existence qualifies the area as “transportation rich.” Yes, even you deserve better.

Inga’s lighthearted looks at life appear regularly in the La Jolla Light. Reach her at inga47@san.rr.com. ◆