As media outlets across the country began calling the recall election in favor of Gov. Gavin Newsom, the Long Beach City Council on Tuesday night declined to ask the governor to veto two controversial housing bills that are sitting on his desk waiting to be signed.
The vote failed 4-5 after a contentious discussion over what the vote really meant given that the bills are ready to sign.
Senate Bill 9 and Senate Bill 10 would allow multiple units to be developed on parcels previously zoned for single-family housing. However, a number of amendments made to the bills, specifically SB-9, would mean that Long Beach would feel a modest impact if Newsom signs them into law.
The council’s vote was the second attempt in as many weeks to ask the city to formally oppose the bills. Last week’s agenda item was upended by an alleged Brown Act violation after Councilman Al Austin’s staff allegedly contacted too many other council offices, which could have constituted a majority.
Austin was joined by councilmembers Daryl Supernaw, Stacy Mungo Flanigan and Suzie Price in supporting a veto of the bills.
Austin’s original request said the city had done its part to create additional zoning space for new housing to be developed and was critical of the bills for their potential to strip away local control.
On Tuesday, Councilman Roberto Uranga said he would not support the vote because it was against the council’s “process” and that the bills were “a done deal” and any vote to oppose them would be symbolic.
“Right now my vote for this would be a symbolic vote and I don’t do symbolic votes,” Uranga said.
The council regularly votes on symbolic resolutions to support or oppose laws at the state and federal level, all of which are out of the council’s jurisdiction.
Austin reminded Uranga that he had an opportunity to sign on to the item, which could have eliminated his complaint about procedure, and that Uranga, who chairs the State Legislation Committee, could have scheduled the committee meeting earlier and had the SB-9 and SB-10 vote scheduled as an action item to be forwarded to the full council.
The vote was a receive and file vote that tabled it at the committee level.
“You say it’s process, I say it’s disingenuous,” Austin said.
Richardson, who also spoke out against the state legislation at a committee meeting in August, did not back away from his criticism of the bills about local control and engaging the community before making wide-ranging zoning decisions, but said that it was time to move on from SB-9 and SB-10 and “be honest with residents.”
“This is getting signed, this is the law, it’s going to happen,” Richardson said.
Newsom’s office declined to indicate whether the governor would sign the two bills prior to Tuesday’s night’s recall election, but he has signed a number of housing bills in the past, including some aimed at increasing density.
After nearly two-thirds of Californian’s voted to keep Newsom, he could have a renewed legislative mandate.
The council also voted Tuesday night to adopt a new policy that would limit the number of co-sponsors for any item to two so council members don’t inadvertently violate the Brown Act by contacting too many members in advance of a meeting.
The City Clerk was directed not to accept any items with more than three total signatures.