January 26, 2022 #1 Local News, Information and Event Source for the Century City/Westwood areas.

Opinion: Attorney General Spurs on Big 2022 Housing Battle

By Tom Elias, Columnist

There will be plenty of political battles next year, starting with likely reelection challenges to Gov. Gavin Newsom and similar efforts to unseat Democratic U.S. Sen. Alex Padilla.

Heated contests for the insurance commissioner’s job and an effort to unseat appointed state Attorney General Rob Bonta have already started.

Initiative fights are also pretty certain, on subjects from sports gambling to flavored tobacco, state funding of private and religious schools to jury trials in child custody cases, online voting and a proposed requirement to spend 2 percent of the state’s general fund on water projects every year.

But Bonta, a former ultra-liberal assemblyman from the East Bay suburbs of San Francisco named attorney general when President Biden picked Xavier Becerra to be his secretary of Health and Human Services, has assured that housing will vie to be the year’s No. 1 issue.

Bonta, never yet elected to statewide office and already with one serious challenger, almost seems to be using reverse psychology that might inadvertently promote a proposed initiative aiming to restore full authority over local zoning and land use to local governments, where until very recently it has resided as long as California has been a state.

Bonta backed two new laws best known by their state Senate bill numbers, SB 9 and SB 10, which together could virtually eliminate single family neighborhoods all over this state. He also has threatened to start enforcing previous state laws that require every city and county in California to boost housing supplies hugely on pain of lawsuits and financial penalties.

Bonta named a 12-member “strike force” within the state’s Justice Department to “look at local jurisdictions’ responsibilities to build more housing,” adding that “there will be consequences, there will be accountability” if cities and counties don’t knuckle under.

Those pre-existing laws, via guidelines from the Department of Housing and Community Development, have already forced many cities to plan vast new developments that could produce as many as a million new housing units. Relatively few of those units have been built, for lack of well-financed developers and the fact that buyers for new homes can be hard to find.

Now come several groups determined to preserve single-family neighborhoods that embody the longstanding “California Dream” of owning private open space and greenery.

Their initiative runs completely counter to what Bonta and his longtime ally, Democratic state Sen. Scott Wiener of San Francisco, are trying to do, which is essentially to remake California cities into dense New York-ish anthills of high-rises and brownstone-style duplexes.

SB 9 and SB 10, for example, combine to allow six units on every lot where there is now one home. They also call for high-rise developments near “major transportation corridors” and light rail stops. All without any requirements for affordability, parking, new water supplies or new schools.

In response, the initiative due to start circulating this winter would remove from the state all the powers Bonta, Wiener and allies like Oakland-based YIMBY (Yes in My Back Yard) want to exert over local land use.

Says the proposed law, “The purpose of this measure is to ensure that all decisions regarding local land use controls, including zoning law and regulations, are made by the affected communities…”

In short, this proposed state constitutional amendment would make it impossible for the state Legislature ever again to try reshaping the state by seizing powers traditionally held by local governments.

This is a change of the usual tactic used in trying to nullify new laws. It is informed by what happened after voters last year passed a referendum cancelling a state law ending cash bail. Legislators responded by proposing a different new law that left a few circumstances allowing cash bail, but mostly would eliminate the current bail system. Expect that to pass in 2022.

Advocates of local decision-making and single family homes want to prevent similar end runs around their initiative, so they’re trying to eliminate all state powers over local land use.

It’s an extreme solution to a problem foisted on neighborhoods by highly ideological lawmakers like Wiener. Given the way today’s legislators often won’t accept the voters’ will, something that strong may be needed.

Email Thomas Elias at tdelias@aol.com. His book, “The Burzynski Breakthrough: The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government’s Campaign to Squelch It,” is now available in a soft cover fourth edition. For more Elias columns, go to www.californiafocus.net.

Related Posts

Letter to the Editor: A Solution for Drivers and Mountain Lions Alike

January 21, 2022

January 21, 2022

The recent story, Local Mountain Lions Show First Reproductive Effects of Inbreeding, highlights a study that found mountain lions in...

Westside Home Prices Rising?

January 21, 2022

January 21, 2022

Redfin report shows 11.1 percent increase in median home prices By Dolores Quintana Are Westside home prices rising?  On the...

Opinion: Housing Battle Heats up in Signature Season

January 21, 2022

January 21, 2022

By Tom Elias, Columnist Even before a proposed homeowner-inspired measure aiming to restore full zoning powers to local governments hit...

Creative Artists Agency to Move Into 26-Story Century City Tower Under Construction

January 21, 2022

January 21, 2022

JMB Realty currently constructing Century City Center Tower By Sam Catanzaro Creative Artists Agency (CAA) has announced it will be...

City Council Waives Environmental Impact Review for Westwood Apartment Development

January 14, 2022

January 14, 2022

92 apartments planned for Westwood Boulevard By Dolores Quintana RBM of California’s apartment development project proposed for 2107-2121 S. Westwood...

NYC-Based Developer Finalizes Acquisition of Westside Residential Development Site

January 14, 2022

January 14, 2022

Tishman Speyer to begin construction in late 2022 on its first LA-area residential project By Sam Catanzaro An NYC-based developer...

Column: Let’s talk About the Soil

January 12, 2022

January 12, 2022

Everyone knows that we are undergoing a climate change not seen on the earth before. We all understand what is...

Apartment Complex May Replace Westwood Furniture Store

January 7, 2022

January 7, 2022

Six-story building could be coming to Westwood Boulevard By Dolores Quintana A developer wants to replace a Westwood furniture store...

23 Park Projects To Receive $113 Million in State Grant Funding

January 7, 2022

January 7, 2022

State and County funds to create new parks and improve existing ones By Dolores Quintana $548 million in new grants...

Should California Have a Formal Right to Shelter?

January 3, 2022

January 3, 2022

By Tom Elias, Columnist On a de facto basis, Californians have had a right to shelter for many years. But...

Stagnant Rent Growth Forecasted for Westside Cities and Neighborhoods

December 17, 2021

December 17, 2021

Lusk Center for Real Estate at USC releases annual study By Dolores Quintana The Lusk Center for Real Estate at...

West LA Development Would Bring 455 Units to Expo Bundy Area

December 17, 2021

December 17, 2021

Carmel Partners proposes large residential development By Dolores Quintana The Los Angeles Department of City Planning has received a proposal...

Heiress Selling Historic Tudor Estate

December 17, 2021

December 17, 2021

Taylor Thomson selling Bel Air property for $43 million By Dolores Quintana Taylor Thomson, the heiress to the Thomson Corporation...

Seismic Water Resiliency

December 16, 2021

December 16, 2021

This is the 2nd part of two-part article  (see smmirror.com/2021/12/sma-r-t-column-its-not-your-fault/ for the first part) Last week we wrote about the...

Infrastructure Act Passage to Provide Billions for LA Public Projects

December 10, 2021

December 10, 2021

Sepulveda Transit Corridor, LAX modernization, and more to benefit from federal funds By Dolores Quintana Now that the Infrastructure Investment...