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Another State Bill Threatens Single Family Homes in Sierra Madre

The August 28 edition of the Mountain Views News had the Headline: “Two Laws that Could Change Sierra Madre Forever Are Moving Forward in Sacramento.” Here’s a short recap of what they can do to destroy our neighborhoods:


SB 9 - This law allows for lot splitting and can add two Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) on each lot. The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) does not apply. Homeowners must pay off their mortgage first and obtain a new one for construction. The homeowner must agree to live in the house for three years. It is the City's responsibility to enforce this law.

SB 10 - Anyone can build up to a 10 unit apartment building with a large enough lot in a "transit rich" site. When the regional housing needs assessment (RHNA) requirements were discussed at the City Council and Planning Commission meetings, it was explained that even though some of our bus routes through town have been discontinued, people will be able to call a number to get a ride. Sierra Madre is supposed to, according to the State; provide potential lots, houses and teardowns for 208 new housing units by the next cycle, eight years from now. We don't know if this new "bus route" would make Sierra Madre "transit rich." There is a coalition that is fighting these RHNA directives for all cities.

This law supersedes anything voted on by the residents. The Measure V portion of downtown is now in danger. Measure V was successfully voted on by the residents in 2007, called the 2-30-13 initiative. Buildings in our downtown area are limited to 2 stories, up to 30 feet high, no more than 13 residential units per acre.


Over the past month, Preserve Sierra Madre repeatedly called Senator Anthony Portantino’s office, including several staff members, emailed, and then posted on Facebook about his failure to respond. We left another voicemail message, reminding him that PSM represents 350 residents. Senator Portantino's Sierra Madre aide finally called on Monday this week.

With these two laws, anyone can build in a fire zone. There is no defensible space requirement for any new property. Our Fire Chief just stated that the majority of homes and other structures burn mainly because of flying embers. Our Sierra Madre Fire Department preaches about defensible space, and issues citations for noncompliant, dangerous property. Also, setbacks have been reduced to four feet, reducing space for yards and trees, and increasing global warming. Our elected officials should be working toward reducing these hazards, not deliberately increasing them.


We have a housing crisis but instead of helping, where this has happened, it has led to gentrification, housing price and rent increases, resulting in more homelessness. Under the guise of helping, these two laws will hurt our neighborhoods, our town, and will not help the disadvantaged but will line the coffers of the developers. These laws will destroy single family neighborhoods, as is shown in United Neighbors two short videos: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fr-PikSHzXg and United Neighbors: The Effects of SB 9 and SB 10.


Isn't that our American dream? - to live in our home in a nice neighborhood, a/k/a our Mayberry, Sierra Madre.


Now here comes the worst bill of all, SB 478. It overrides cities’ abilities to locally zone multi-family residential zones. It forbids cities from specifying any minimum lot size to build these big units. Unlike SB 10, it is mandatory. Cities have absolutely no control over what gets built. With the passage of SB 9 and 10, now anything can be built on the Monastery property regardless of what agreement with the City has been reached or what their Specific Plan says.


There is a coalition of Mayors, including Mayor Arizmendi, who are fighting these horrible bills. Please everyone, call Assembly member Holden 626-351-1917 and Representative Portantino 818-409-0400. Urge them to oppose this latest horrendous bill before it's too late. Please call Governor Newsom at 916-445-2841 and respectfully request that he veto all three of these bills once they reach his desk.

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