A formal position on a California State Senate bill that would drastically limit local control over future zoning will have to wait as the Long Beach City Council opted for a “wait-and-see” approach as potential amendments to the bill are unveiled.
Senate Bill 827, proposed by San Francisco-area State Senator Scott Wiener, would set statewide standards for height, density and eliminate any mandates for required parking when it comes to future projects built in the state near transit stops. The rules would apply to housing being built within a quarter mile of a “high quality transit corridor” and within a half-mile of a major transit stop.
Fifth District Councilwoman Stacy Mungo, with the support of Councilmen Al Austin and Daryl Supernaw, proposed that the city vote in opposition to the bill and have that vote communicated to Sacramento. However, the vote was preceded by Weiner contacting the council, both directly and in writing, asking to meet to discuss potential changes to SB 827.
“I don’t know what those changes will be yet,” Mungo said. “He [Weiner] has not opened the door on that yet, but I at least appreciate that the work has been communicated and I think that’s a step in the right direction.”
While SB 827 has been controversial since its introduction in January, the city was well into its own controversial battle over future zoning long before then. The land use element (LUE), and its many revisions prompted by the objections of some property owners, is finally making its way to the city council for further revisions and a possible vote.
Mungo’s office set out a release Monday stating that she would oppose the most controversial zoning proposals currently held within the LUE that could see commercial areas in East Long Beach transformed into residential properties, some as high as five stories. The statement said Mungo would push to maintain height and density limits, keeping those commercial areas at a two-story cap and oppose any type of mixed-uses at the properties.
Earlier Wednesday, two city council candidates—including one running against Mungo in April—called on the city to intervene on the proposed state legislation, the LUE and recently passed laws on land use.
District 5 candidate Corliss Lee and District 3 candidate Gordana Kajer have both been outspoken opponents of the LUE.
“The problems with land use on this one is they are opening up building to developers and they are taking away our CEQA rights,” Lee said at the press conference outside city hall hours before the council meeting. “With these new laws, SB-827 and SB-35, that problem is being exacerbated. They’re doing away with our rights to look at these environmental impacts and these quality of life impacts.”
The senate bill has the potential to override any zoning agreed upon in that vote, which is why the council put the item on the agenda late last week. It could uniformly grant permission for future developments to rise between four and eight stories if they fall into the current radius around transit hubs outlined in the bill.
Mungo’s item was on the agenda for less than three days before Weiner reached out to the city to express that changes to the bill were likely to be announced within the next few weeks, which in turn prompted the council to refer the issue back to the council’s state legislation committee level while those changes are being worked out. The issue could be back at the council level sometime after those changes are released, likely within the next month.
“He’s [Weiner] heard from not only the city of Long Beach, and understanding that we’re postured to oppose his bill, but many other cities throughout this state as well,” Austin said. “I think he’s heard outcry from local government and has seen hopefully that local control is something that we are extremely interested in.”
Jason Ruiz covers transportation for the Long Beach Post. Reach him at [email protected] or 951-310-1772.
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