Action of the Week
Tuesday, June 15: City Council will consider opposing SB9. Berkeley Must Support SB9 For Greater Missing Middle Housing Statewide
Berkeley has recently taken significant positive steps towards addressing the local shortage of affordable housing, notably moving towards eliminating exclusionary zoning across much of the city. Berkeley has moved to the forefront of progressive municipalities acting to redress the housing crisis that has left increasing numbers of people without shelter and pushed others into long commutes for work.
However, Berkeley is only one community among many statewide, and others in high demand areas continue to drag their feet on addressing the crisis. The housing shortage is a statewide problem and requires statewide action. One proposal, currently before the Assembly, is SB9, a bill that would, with few exceptions, require cities to allow construction of two homes on lots currently restrictively zoned for single houses only. Berkeley's own state legislators, Assembly Member Wicks and Senator Skinner have been at the forefront of efforts like this to force recalcitrant communities statewide to unblock housing creation and allow more people to live in high demand areas.
On Tuesday, June 15, City Council will consider opposing SB9.
You can find the proposed letter here, starting on page 43. The opposition is predicated largely on SB9 bypassing the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and Coastal Act, both of which were passed in response to large scale industrial and corporate activities. Allowing two homes to be built on sites currently restricted to one is at the opposite end of the spectrum of land use issues. But CEQA lawsuits in particular have been repeatedly abused to block needed housing, transit and road safety plans, so we are not impressed by this disingenuous concern. And as for the Coastal Act, Berkeley is not rural Sonoma county. The far greater threat to California's environment comes from continuing to force people into their cars for long commutes from outlying suburbs.
Please send a letter to tell council you think Berkeley needs more affordable missing middle housing, not less.
Sign it with your name+location and send to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: Vote NO on the proposal to oppose SB9 allowing more infill and missing middle housing
Dear Mayor Arreguin and Berkeley City Council -
Senate Bill 9, passed by the Senate and now before the state Assembly, would require municipalities statewide to allow the construction of two units on most lots currently restricted to single homes. This would allow creation of more housing at lower cost in areas of high demand, where missing-middle housing types are currently forbidden. Berkeley has recently taken steps towards the same goals, by directing the city staff to develop plans to eliminate exclusionary single family zoning throughout the city. I urge the city council to maintain this forward momentum towards fixing our critical shortage of housing, and oppose sending a letter of opposition on SB9 to the bill's sponsors.