Sunday, November 27, 2022

California’s Continuing Erosion of Local Control

Letters to the Editor submitted to The Coronado Times are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the publisher, editors or writers of this publication. Submit letters to [email protected]

Submitted by Mike Donovan

Over the past five years, the California State Legislature has had a propensity to introduce and pass legislation that usurps the authority of local jurisdictions. In addition, Sacramento has adopted a “one size fits all” strategy, which fails to consider the different needs of each municipality. Instead, the state has imposed the same demands on every community, allowing little or no oversight or control by individual cities and other local governments.

While this approach has been taken in various areas of legislation, arguably the most burdensome effects are on a range of housing issues. More and more, the majority of these types of bills undermine a city’s ability to determine for itself the land use policies and practices that are best suited to its city and its residents. This statewide dictate also takes away a city’s ability to maintain the unique fabric and character of its community.

Here are just three examples of the types of legislation that California municipalities, including the City of Coronado, are up against:

One: Because single-family housing cannot be counted as affordable housing in some localities in California, State Senator Pro Tempore Toni Atkins (and Coronado’s state representative) introduced SB 9, which would require local governments to approve, without discretion (referred to as ministerial approval), the splitting of single lots into two, allowing construction of one single-family home, one Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU), and one Junior ADU (an ADU within a single-family home) on each lot. This adds up to a total of 6 housing units on a parcel currently zoned for one single-family home. A similar bill introduced last year was approved by the state assembly and was expected to be passed by the state senate, but it missed the deadline due to a filibuster regarding another, unrelated bill (Coronado’s relinquishment bill had the same fate). In my view, the passing of SB 9 will pretty much devastate the distinctive residential character of our city. Unfortunately, this seems to be the goal of a majority of our state legislators.

Two: Another piece of legislation, AB 115, introduced by Assembly Member Richard Bloom of Santa Monica, would require that housing be allowed within all commercially-zoned districts, up to a height of 36’ (at least 3 floors), such as the property where Smart & Final is currently located. While cities would have some control over building standards, the state would, once again, demand that municipalities provide ministerial approval for these projects. A similar bill, SB 6, has also been introduced in the State Senate.

Three: As a final example, SB 50, which was introduced last year by Senator Scott Wiener, who represents San Francisco and parts of San Mateo County, could allow multifamily housing up to 8 stories within a half-mile of a bus or trolley stop. For Coronado, this would be everywhere except for a small section of the Country Club area. The basics of this bill have been introduced for the past three years, gaining more support each year, and is expected to be reintroduced in some form during this legislative session.

Each one of these bills would eclipse local control and are the types of hurdles Coronado, and every other California city, is up against in proposing land use plans and a “Housing Element” for its General Plan that would be acceptable to the State of California.

Provided below is the contact information for Coronado’s representatives in the state legislature. I would encourage you to express your opinion concerning this “top down” approach to the production of housing in Coronado.

Senator Toni Atkins
President pro Tempore
916-651-4039 (Sacramento)
Email: [email protected]

Assemblymember Chris Ward
916-319-2078 (Sacramento)
Email: [email protected]

Mike Donovan


Managing Editor
Managing Editor
Originally from upstate New York, Dani has lived in Coronado since 1996. She is happy to call Coronado home and to have raised her children here. In her free time she enjoys reading, exercising, trying new restaurants, and just walking her dog around the "island." Have news to share? Send tips or story ideas to: [email protected]