Dear California State Legislator:
I write to you today on my personal behalf as a member of the Long Beach City Council. I have been actively engaged in working with my council colleagues to address many of the state policies and initiatives related to statewide issues.
As to the issue of housing, the city of Long Beach has tried to work in a manner that is consistent with statewide goals for increased housing and access to affordable housing. In fact, Long Beach marked its best year for housing starts in more than three decades in 2019.
The state has asked local jurisdictions to find local solutions to increase housing production and that is exactly what Long Beach has done. In the Southern California (SCAG) region, Long Beach is among the top-20 performers in terms of housing production. These 20 jurisdictions represent only 46% of the SCAG populations but facilitate 72% of the housing starts in the region. Long Beach is contributing more than its fair share to regional housing needs, despite the fact the city is fully built out and constrained.
Specific to the issue of Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), the city worked tirelessly to adopt a local ADU scheme that was both consistent with state goals, and also inclusive of the input we received from residents in diverse communities throughout the city. That ADU plan was consistent with the 2017 state legislation and has resulted in hundreds of new ADUs throughout Long Beach.
Personally, I am seeing in my district that the state’s later actions in enacting AB 68 and other similar housing laws has had an unintended consequence of taking away local control and allowing housing developments that have a significant detrimental outcome in the proposed neighborhoods. In my district, I have seen parking, open space, noise and other impacts are only now being realized with the approval of building applications.
In one residential single-family neighborhood in my district, for example, there is a proposal to build an 11-bedroom home plus ADU facility on the existing lot, with no additional parking requirements. These impacts are significant to local neighborhoods and not what I believe was intended when this legislation was passed.
Prior to AB 68 and the other 2019 legislative items (taking effect Jan. 1, 2020), the city of Long Beach had the ability to mitigate ADUs with impacts while still facilitating ADUs generally and supporting the regional and statewide need for housing.
I am respectfully requesting that you reconsider the current provisions of AB 68 for cities such as Long Beach that have thoughtfully developed more specific local solutions for housing. I hope you will consider modifications to the existing law that would allow for greater local discretion when considering the unintended impacts of specific developments in neighborhoods.
Suzie Price is the councilmember representing the Third Council District in Long Beach.