In a meeting I was at this morning, a representative from the California Association of Realtors was the guest speaker. These are always great meetings. I love finding out what the politicians are up to. Sometimes I agree with their schemes and then sometimes I don't ... like today. I draw your attention to AB2631 which is one of those bills that sounds good but actually isn't (to me anyway). It goes like this. Currently, developers and or parties wishing to build a multi unit property, or any property for that matter, are subject to local ordinances and control i.e. things such as but not limited to land or conditional use permits, permits to build, design review, county or city approval of the project, environmental reports, parking mitigations and the all important appropriation of water source. AB2631 seeks to go around all that pesky oversite and instead says, if the proposed project and location meets certain criteria, the local government must approve or deny it within 30 days with denial only being possible if the proposed development doesn't satisfy all 5 criteria. If they do not approve or deny within that time period, approval is automatically assumed. Approval is good for 5 years. Here is the incredibly skimpy criteria:

  1. Vacant or "available site" zoned residential or mixed use.
  2. Involves a total of 25 units or less.
  3. Provides housing for low to moderate income people.
  4. Is in a public transit corridor.

Yes. That is it. Those 5 criteria must be met and then they get the keys to the kingdom. I'm not being hysterical but I am visualizing this thing out to its natural conclusion, which is something I'm good at, and I don't like what I see. 

Additionally, it reads like most design control will be removed and here again, designs shall be approved within 30 days as well. This means developers don't have to waste money on silly things like appealing architecture, local themes, pleasing color schemes, dim lighting etc. There is no requirement to plan for parking, schools, water or traffic.

Let me say more about why we need to work towards killing AB2631: 

As I said to the CAR rep today, this is all great but who is the voice for the people who are already living in these areas? Who is acting on their behalf, protecting their equity? Its great we are trying to provide more housing but we, to me anyway, owe an equal if not greater duty to protect the people who already own homes in locations directly affected by these potential large developments.  Who among us wants to go out into their back yard and look at where prior homes or a vacant lot used to be and instead see a two or three story apartment building complete with parking lot lights that stay on all night (and yes, we do already have one such development here). I can't even make a guess as to the hit to equity on affected adjacent properties and the parking and traffic impacts. The way this reads, any property zoned residential or mixed use has the potential to be unilaterally morphed into a 25 unit or less high density zoned development. Let me stress the word again. Any. But wait, there's more: 

  • "Available site" is a scary term. Knock down an existing house or two and shazaam, its available. "Available site" is too broad.
  • Is 25 units supposed to be a small number? Would you want to live next door to a 25 unit apartment complex? Or even half of that? There doesn't appear to be a cap on occupancy other than state norms which means if there are 25 one bedroom units, thats as few as 25 people living there minimum ... or likely 50 people if the occupants are couples or have a child. How about 2 bedrooms units which means 100 people living there potentially. California code is 2 people per bedroom.
  • "Provides housing" for low to moderate income. A noble cause but the word "provides" is painting things with a broad brush. What does that mean? It doesn't mean they are for sale necessarily. They can and will likely be rentals. This would relieve the demand for rental units but not necessarily for the lack of supply for buyers. Who is going to police the rental or purchase price amounts for these units going forward? There does not appear to be any provision for that. 
  • The public transit corridor requirement here again is somewhat broad stroke. What does that mean? We have bus service the entire length from Buellton to Santa Ynez and Los Olivos. How far is too far from the bus to make a parcel not eligible? 

I agree with the spirit of the bill but it is too broad, tries to do to much and gives zero thought to the reality of these types of impacts on communities, adjacent home owners and the future. The intent is good but far too light on details to have this bill move forward, in my humble opinion. What can you do? You can do a lot really. The bill was introduced February 15th so it is on the move. You can write or call the sponsor, Assemblymember Travis Allen or better yet, reach out to Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson and let her know that you don't want an apartment complex as a neighbor or at the very least, push for more thought and planning before dumping this bombshell on possibly every single homeowner in the state of California. Contact the California Association of Realtors who apparently support this bill and think its a great idea by visiting and email them via their legislative branch.  Contact your local government too (anywhere in California) because they should be working towards protecting their constituents. Here in the valley its 3rd District Supervisor Joan Hartmann.  Ask them what they are doing to lobby against AB2631. Because I feel very strongly that this bill is bad for the majority of homeowners that could ultimately be affected by rampant inbuilding, I'm doing all of the above. You can acuse me of NIMBY if you want to (Not in My Back Yard) but all I ask is you give it some thought and then act. We do need to find a solution for the lack of housing for low to moderate income earners but AB2631 is not it. 

New Listing

5 Chamiso, Los Alamos (3/2 on .15 of an acre) 540K Single story on the perimeter with crazy good views of the adjacent large vineyard and hillsides. HOA fees here are $185 per month. Yes, you can get a view property in the 5's on the Central Coast. 

New Listing

30 Bear Creek, Buellton (3/2 on .11 of an acre) 575K This is the plan with 1,211 square feet. Some interior upgrades already done. 

Price Reduction

828 Ballard Canyon, Solvang (4/4 on 5.04 acres)  Was $2,695,000 with a new price of $2,595,000. 

Sold

2219 Hill Haven, Solvang (5.08 acres, land only)  Listed at 400K and sold final for 390K. 

 

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Sharon Currie | Realtor  BRE#01357602

Berkshire Hathaway Home Services BRE#01317331

Physical: 2933 San Marcos Ave #102, Los Olivos

Mailing: P O Box 778 Los Olivos CA 93441
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