Opinion: Senate Bill 10 misleads public in efforts to end single-family zoning in California
From San Diego to Mount Shasta, homeowners and their representatives are speaking out against the ill-conceived efforts of the state legislature to eliminate zoning on single-family homes. I add my voice to this tidal wave of opposition because I am convinced that Senate Bill 10 also presents an ethical and possibly indefensible legal problem for our elected officials.
I read the fine print in SB 10, and there is no question that the bill allows for the construction of ten units on single-family land, plus four additional “accessory housing units” (also known as ADUs or “grandmother’s apartments”). It is a total of 14 housing, on a plot, in a single-family neighborhood like mine.
These are the facts, even though the author of SB 10 tried to minimize the negative impact of his proposal by not counting the four additional structures as “housing units”. Why the trick? I think there is an obvious answer: City councils that want to eliminate single-family zoning can avoid public hearings and environmental reviews for projects with up to ten housing units, but this review is obligatory for projects of more than ten units!
In fact, California has historically recognized ADUs as housing units. It’s right there, in black and white, in the state’s ADU 2020 manual. If an ADU is defined as a housing unit in this state regulation, it should also be considered a housing unit in SB 10, especially because both documents address the issue of ADUs on single-family zoned lots. .
I’m not a lawyer, but I’m sure the state legislature can’t – and shouldn’t – arbitrarily decide when an ADU is or is not considered accommodation. This is what SB 10 would do. Judges reject this kind of flawed reasoning as “arbitrary and capricious abuse of power.”
We lay people call it what it is: using slang words to hide the facts, mislead the public, and pave the way for the stealthy elimination of single-family zoning.
I urge all of our state legislators to carefully read the language of SB 10. Not counting ADUs is unethical and possibly legally indefensible! When you understand the negative and irreversible impact of SB 10 on all the communities in your districts, I know you will join me and millions of other Californians in our steadfast opposition to SB 10.
Danna Givot is a homeowner in San Diego, community activist and volunteer with Neighbors for a Better San Diego.