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

Judge Blocks Barrington Plaza Evictions, Citing Legal Violations

June 20, 2024

June 20, 2024

Owner Douglas Emmett Inc. Sought to Evict Nearly 600 Tenants Last Year, Citing Safety Upgrades The eviction of hundreds of...

Texas Man Sentenced to 33 Months for Threatening U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters

June 18, 2024

June 18, 2024

Gaherty Targeted the Congresswoman With Racist and Violent Threats  A Texas man was sentenced to 33 months in federal prison...

Brand New, Six-Bed Palisades Mansion Hits Market at $34M

June 16, 2024

June 16, 2024

The lower level boasts a bar, lounge, wine tasting room, home theater, and a full spa with a gym A...

Chris Pratt and Katherine Schwarzenegger Cut Price on Palisades Home by $6.5M

June 12, 2024

June 12, 2024

The couple purchased the property in June 2018 for $15.6 million and extensively remodeled it While actor Chris Pratt’s box-office...

Lawsuit Filed Over Pacific Palisades Property Foreclosure: Report

June 11, 2024

June 11, 2024

The Dispute Over the Site Dates Back to 2014 The owners of a Pacific Palisades residential site are fighting to...

Ivy-Covered Mansion on Amalfi Dr. With Eight Bedrooms Hits Market at $38M

June 4, 2024

June 4, 2024

Situated on One of the Largest Lots in Riviera, the Property Includes a Two-Story Guest House A luxurious estate designed...

TripAdvisor Ranked This Santa Monica Hotel #1 in America

May 23, 2024

May 23, 2024

The Ranking Honored the Highest Level of Excellence in Travel, Recognizing Those Who Receive a High Volume of Exceptional Review...

Los Angeles County Rent Relief Program Opens Second Round of Applications

May 21, 2024

May 21, 2024

Applications Accepted Until June 4, Funding and Support Have Been Increased  The Los Angeles County Rent Relief Program (LARRP) has...

Three-Story Complex Opens in Santa Monica, Offers Tenants “Creative” Office Space

May 15, 2024

May 15, 2024

The Building Is Divided Into Two Wings, Connected by a Glass-Enclosed Walk-Through Bridge Structure C.W. Driver Companies, has officially completed...

Glass “Butterfly” Mansion in Malibu Goes for $200K Monthly

May 15, 2024

May 15, 2024

Designed by Renowned Architect Ed Niles Faia and Completed in 2022 After Nearly Two Decades of Construction, the Centerpiece of...

Mini Compound on Brooks Ave Lists for $2.5M

May 13, 2024

May 13, 2024

The primary bedroom, complete with an ensuite, beckons through French doors to a rear garden This tranquil $2.49 million mini...

Classic Tudor Estate Near Palisades Village Listed for Nearly $7M

May 12, 2024

May 12, 2024

A detached studio sits adjacent to a sparkling pool, while a detached two-car garage is adorned with lush ivy A...

Five-Unit Multi-Family Property Along Venice Canals Hits Market at $7M

May 6, 2024

May 6, 2024

Joint Effort to Share Revenue Marks Milestone in Malibu School District Autonomy An opportunity for both owner/users and investors, this...

Report: Real Estate CEO Loses Palisades Home to Foreclosure

May 1, 2024

May 1, 2024

The News Comes a Little Over Two Months After TRD Reported That Kenig Is Suing Rabbi Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto By...

New Via De La Paz Property Hits Market at $8.9M

April 28, 2024

April 28, 2024

Descend to the Basement to Uncover a State-of-the-Art Theater, Expansive Entertainment Area, Private Guest Suite Located at 600 Vía De...