Submitted by Office of Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins
June means summer’s coming. That’s one of the times of year that reminds us what a truly remarkable place we live in. June is also the month we celebrate Father’s Day, and while I lost my Dad many years ago, I am still grateful to him for so many things.
My Dad worked until he ached to keep a roof over our heads. And sometimes, after he was done working and my sister and I were getting ready for bed, he would tell us about this sleepy little place on the California coast called “San Diego” where he had been stationed during World War II.
This summer is a critical time for all the work we have been doing to help more folks get a roof over their heads. With our June 15th constitutional deadline approaching, I’m proud to announce the Legislature has reached a historic early agreement on a bold State Budget. This budget is a once-in-a-generation chance to make transformational change that includes historic funding levels for housing and homelessness, on top of major investments.
Summer is also the time for remaining bills to be acted on before the legislature adjourns this year’s session in September. That means many of the bills in the Senate’s Housing Production package, which I’ve highlighted before, have passed the Senate and will soon face critical votes in the Assembly.
I’m very pleased that one of those bills, my SB 7, was just signed into law by Governor Newsom on May 20. SB 7 extends California’s effective AB 900 CEQA streamlining process, which lapsed last January, through the end of 2025. SB 7 also expands the process so it applies to much smaller housing projects, lowering the threshold to qualify to $15 million.
SB 7 also requires that to be eligible, projects must have at least 15% lower-cost housing, be infill projects, and meet environmental and labor safeguards.
While we are working to add the housing units California desperately needs, we are also taking steps to protect the special characteristics that brought so many of us to our neighborhoods and communities in the first place. That’s especially true when it comes to SB 9, my bill to build upon California’s successful Accessory Dwelling Unit, or “Granny Flat” law. This bill passed the Senate on a bipartisan 28-6 vote.
SB 9 streamlines the process for a homeowner to create a duplex or subdivide an existing lot. SB 9 also includes important protections many people asked for in a previous version of the bill, including the limitation that it would only allow up to four units. Any new housing created as a result of SB 9 must meet a specific list of qualifications that protects historic districts, preserve environmental quality and the look of communities, and prevent tenants from being displaced.
San Diego may never again be a sleepy little village on the coast, but we can absolutely make sure our communities remain the kind of magical places in which any little girl would dream about living.
Sadly, as we’ve seen so much lately with vaccinations and elections, there has been a significant amount of misinformation being spread about SB 9. So if you see something, particularly on social media, and you think, “I don’t believe Toni would do that,” chances are you are right!
To me, one of the most exciting things about SB 9 is the opportunities it provides for more homeowners to build intergenerational wealth—to create a duplex or add an ADU and then have a little something they can pass on to their kids and grandkids.
The way my hardworking dad would have done if he’d had the chance.
Senator Toni Atkins