Residents for Quality Neighborhoods, San Luis Obispo, California

Board Minutes

January 15, 2020

During the meeting the RQN Board received a presentation on the recent activities of Livable California regarding Senate Bill 50 (SB 50) that was working its way through various state legislative committees. The non-partisan, 501(c)4 state-wide organization, Livable California, has approximately 7,000 members and more than 10,000 on its email list.

[Note: We subsequently learned that through the advocacy efforts of Livable California, along with other groups, SB 50 was defeated on January 31, 2020]

Major points of the presentation were as follows:

SB 50 is applicable to cities of 50,000+ population and counties of 600,000 or more. It expands state government control over local governments regarding new housing and gives local governments two years to create flexible development standards, creating a one-size-fits-all standard. Developers could override city zoning (including R-1 single family zoning) near rail stops and frequent bus stops to erect four- or more- story towers with few affordable units and no parking requirements if near transit stations. It also removes level-of-service (LOS) traffic measurement standards which will create severe traffic circulation impacts, leaving cities to deal with significant infrastructure deficiencies. Developers can override local design/safety policies that are not state law, and a streamlined approval process is required. It is a real estate profit bill rather than a housing bill, and many believe it will only provide more higher-end housing.

SB 50 is heading to the Appropriations Committee on January 21, 2020, and then it goes to the State Senate Rules Committee by January 30, 2020. The SB 50 time-line gives cities just 14-21 days to read, understand, and evaluate its consequences and to make comments on it.

There is a movement by a group of Southern California League of Cities members in the Los Amgeles area to oppose SB 50, and they have come up with an alternative to the bill, although it still needs some work.

The State Legislature set a goal of 3.5 million housing units to be built by 2025. A developer consultant was hired to come up with this number; he used New York's housing per capita as the goal for California. California is not New York, and when using a similar state like Texas as a benchmark, California needs 1.5 million, not 3.5 million. Using a comprehensive measure of “housing per capita” from all 50 states, California needs 1.4 million units. The State Housing and Community Development Department has the most accurate data, and the state's multivariate model says California needs 1.1 million, not 3.5 million units.

San Francisco has approved 70,000 units for construction, but they are not being built. Requirements for solar panels and other energy saving laws on all new construction are driving up costs which drives up prices.

Lack of affordable housing causes include: (1) elimination of redevelopment incentives; (2) lack of student housing in college areas; (3) Lack of outreach; (4) approval of ADU and other housing laws. Solutions should include: (1) targeting housing for millennials (not necessarily in single-family neighborhoods); (2) pass a bill that provides assistance to local governments to expand the infrastructure; (3) redevelop state and local surplus properties into affordable style housing; (4) address jobs/housing imbalance; (5) water resource management (how do you manage 3.5 million homes without addressing water); (6) require state universities to build their own housing on campus.

Discussions about how to provide millennials with affordable housing include providing manufactured housing with zero energy usage with 1,200 sq. ft. two-bedroom units with a garage for $130,000 (not including land price). Need well-planned projects in order to create affordable housing for young people who are burdened with student debt and do not have a down payment sufficient to buy currently offered housing.

Senator Wiener is threatening to create a new, similar bill by the February 21, 2020, deadline for submitting new legislation.

If you are interested in learning more about this topic, more information can be obtained from Livable California's website.


October 16, 2019

The following are extracts from the RQN Board minutes and are likely to be of interest to RQN members.


SLO County Citizen Planning Academy

An RQN Board member has attended three sessions of the Citizen Planning Academy so far which is being put on by the American Planning Association (APA). The academy's purpose is to give citizens with no planning knowledge or experience information about county-wide planning. Discussions are not in depth but are pro-development promoting more jobs, more homes, and more commercial with no discussion about traffic and infrastructure impacts from this growth. A King City Planner who is working on a cannabis ordinance made a presentation and said their expectation is that there could be as much as $3.5 million a year from cannabis growth. SLO's Community Developement Director has spoken twice and stressed flexible density in any zone.

Steven Peck who is project manager for Avila Ranch, Serra Meadows, and other developments, explained the cost of development working backward from the end of the project to the beginning purchase of the land. He indicated that on a $32 million project, they expect to make a $20 million profit.


SLO Property and Business Owners Association (SLOPBOA)

An RQN Board member attended the SLOPBOA Luncheon on housing on September 26th. The following information was presented:

California home ownership is down to 54.5% from 60.2% in 2006. Nationwide, home ownership is at 63.9%, down from 69% in 2005. While 57% of Americans can afford to buy a home, only 32% can do so in California.

People aren't moving up into higher-end homes primarily due to changes in federal tax laws with the deductibility of state and local property taxes capped at $10,000.

There are currently 3,500 units in the pipeline in the City of SLO, more than any other time in our city's 200+ year history, and there are 3,100 hotel rooms in planning or under construction in the county with SLO city accounting for 890 of those rooms. SLO has the second highest ratio of housing units being built to existing population (24.1%). Camarillo is higher at 26.8%, but their units are primarily apartment units.

Approximately 30% of new homes in SLO are being purchased by existing residents with the other 70% being sold to out of area buyers, primarily fleeing larger California cities, and investors who intend to rent out the homes. Developers say land cost and impact fees are the major statewide drivers of high housing costs, and the benefits from the impact fees are not always visible or realized as citizens do not have control over the funds once collected. Higher construction costs and new technology such as tiny homes are also driving up housing costs. Lengthy planning reviews, financing risks, permits, and inspections cause cost of housing to rise. High cost of housing in SLO city is also driven by investors who can purchase homes for high prices to operate as rentals for our student population in the city, often creating bidding wars. New laws passed in State Legislature are only going to make new homes less affordable.


SB 13 -- ACCESSORY DWELLING UNITS

An RQN Board member reported that SB 13 has been signed by Governor Newsom. This law will apply to all cities (including Charter cities like SLO) and counties. It applies to all single family and multi family units. Some of the requirements are very detrimental to residential neighborhoods. It provides that a local jurisdiction "may" enact an ADU ordinance, but state law sets the parameters of what can and cannot be included in the ordinance. It authorizes the creation of ADUs in areas zoned to allow single-family or multifamily dwelling residential use. Units may be attached to, or located within a dwelling, an attached garage, storage area, or other structure, and are limited to 50% of the square footage of the existing primary dwelling up to a maximum of 1200 square feet.

Cities/counties may regulate height but can't regulate setback to more than four (4) feet; may require no more than one (1) parking space for an ADU but are prohibited from requiring the replacement of parking spaces if a garage, carport, or covered parking is demolished to construct an ADU; are prohibited from imposing parking standards on an ADU that is located within one-half mile walking distance of public transit (bus, rail, etc.); are prohibited from imposing an owner-occupant requirement until January 1, 2025; and are required, whether or not they have adopted an ordinance, to consider and approve an application, ministerially and without discretionary review, within 60 days after receiving a completed application. If a local agency does not act on the application within that time period, the application shall be deemed approved.

According to our CDD, the following number of ADU permits in SLO have been issued during the past 3 years: 39 in 2017; 40 in 2018; and 30 to date in 2019.


AB 1482 -- Tenant Protection Act (Rent Control or Rent Cap)

An RQN Board member researched and reported that the law is effective January 1, 2020, and remains in effect for 10 years, and the intent of the law is to significantly limit further increases in rapidly rising rents statewide. Less than a year ago, California voters decisively rejected a similar initiative. It limits rent increases to 5% plus inflation (an estimated total: 8-9% maximum increase) in any 12-month period, and it limits maximum total rent increases to less than 10% in any 12-month period. The law doesn't apply to apartments built within the last 15 years or to single family home rentals unless they are owned by a corporation or by institutional investors. It is not clear how that might apply to out-of-country investors with LLC's who own and operate rentals in SLO. The law also prohibits landlords from evicting tenants who have lived in a rental for a year or more without any documented lease violations.


SB 330 -- Housing Crisis Act

The same RQN Board member reported that the law becomes effective January 1, 2020 and remains in effect for 5 years. The law limits public hearings before a city or planning commission to up to a maximum of five before requiring city approval after a developer files an initial preliminary application for a housing project.

Cities can't add to or increase any fees during the development or construction of a project, and the permitting process is limited to a maximum of 5 years.

Per the Commercial Observer, it overrides local planning and zoning in favor of higher-density housing projects in areas zoned for and currently limited to single-family residences.

Per the California Globe, it bans construction moratoriums and forbids housing density reductions. Regardless of the size of the housing project, this bill strictly prohibits local agencies from imposing any type of parking standard within ¼ mile of a rail stop (a particularly severe restraint in the Bay Area).

The law essentially bans project-specific fees, since fees are limited to only those needed when a developer submits a preliminary application. Project-specific fees can't be determined until an agency fully analyzes a project, and a preliminary application doesn't include adequate information to complete a thorough analysis or to assess project scope.

Infrastructure requirements -- traffic improvements, water/sewer supply, etc. can't restrain or limit development. Only a small percentage of low-income housing needs to be included in a project to qualify. Alot more expensive apartments can be built by the developer.

It was opposed by the League of California Cities.


SB5 -- Affordable Housing and Community Development Program

The same RQN Board member further reported that Governor Newsom stated he would veto this measure. If approved, it would have changed the formulas and procedures a County Auditor uses to allocate property tax revenues to authorized projects and entities currently using those funds -- such as public education. If approved, $2 billion would have been authorized statewide for affordable housing and infrastructure-related expenditures.




Past Events

September 28, 2019

Annual RQN Member Dinner

Our Annual Dinner was held at Cafe Roma on Saturday, September 28.

Our guest speaker was Dave Congalton, host of Hometown Radio on KVEC 920 AM and 96.5 FM here in San Luis Obispo.

Dave's presentation was excellent and well received by our members who packed the banquet room for the Dinner. Dave covered a lot of ground including his observations of changes to the city and city government over the years as well as his insights into changes in our local news media over the years. As usual, RQN members were actively engaged and had numerous comments and questions. A thoroughly enjoyable evening, and our thanks to Dave Congalton for joining us.


August 20, 2019

Private Sewer Lateral Program

A topic of interest on the City Coucil agenda was a proposed sewer lateral program which included consideration of a rebate program. Here is the PowerPoint presentation; the body of it is in the first nine (9) slides.

Thanks to those who wrote or spoke to the Council regarding support, objections, or recommendations.

The program was approved 5-0.




News

City Wide

Increase in Burglaries

Over the last several years there has been a rise in theft-related crimes, both in SLO and state-wide. SLO has seen an increase in thefts and burglaries: motor vehicle thefts, thefts of objects left in vehicles, thefts of bicycles and residential burglaries. SLOPD has provided these tips for decreasing your chances of becoming a victim of these crimes.

1. Always lock your vehicle, house and windows, and be sure to close garage doors. Summer is here and leaving doors and windows unsecured is an easy way for a burglar to gain access.

2. Never leave your keys in or about your vehicle or house; keep garage door openers out of sight.

3. Park in well-lit areas.

4. Do not leave valuables, such as wallets, money, purses, cell phones and computers, visible.

5. Be aware of your surroundings and area. If you see something suspicious, call the Police Department (781-7312).

6. Take time to document and save serial numbers from your valuable items (cell phones, computers, bicycles, game stations, etc.). Having these numbers can help get your property returned to you.

7. Bicycles should always be locked if possible or stored in a secure space. Bicycles can be registered with SLOPD to ensure return of the bicycle if it is recovered.

a. Registration can be done on line or by downloading a form and dropping it off at the PD. Go to the Police Department FAQs page and look for bicycle registration paragraph.

b. The FST, Jason Barrett (jBarrett@slocity.org), has helped with inscribing on bikes and can do so by appointment.

The Police Department reminds you they are here for you and they would rather respond to a call of suspicious activity and find it is nothing than to have us be victims of crime.


Unruly Gathering Ordinance

July 21, 2015

[Update] The Unruly Gathering Ordinance was reviewed and updated at the July 21, 2015, City Council meeting. The review was prompted by an unruly gathering that took place near California Boulevard and Hathway Street in the early morning hours of March 7, 2015, and that resulted in personal injury and serious property damage. The unruly gathering highlighted the serious impacts to the health, safety and welfare of not only those who attend such gatherings, but to the immediate and surrounding community.

Several of the more significant changes are noted at the "Unruly Gathering Ordinance" paragraph at the "Noise" tab that you can access by clicking the "Useful Tips" tab at the top of this page.


SLO Police Department

Update

Be advised that these officers change periodically. You will have to check the following website to verify the names and contact information for officers currently assigned to your neighborhood.

Neighborhood Officer Program

The City of San Luis Obispo Police Department has created a Neighborhood Officer Program that divides the city into 13 Distinct Neighborhoods, each with one or more dedicated police officer(s) assigned to the neighborhood to address community liveability issues. The objective of the Neighborhood Officer Program is to quickly identify community issues, concerns, problems and crime trends which have long term quality of life issues. The Neighborhood Officer Program is supposed to allow for officers to coordinate resources to help solve these problems.

The Neighborhood Officer is tasked to assist with public education, crime prevention, and neighborhood specific problems and help with coordination of other city services and departments to ensure a professional response to the citizens of San Luis Obispo. Officers are expected to seek out and identify issues, with solutions, within their assigned neighborhood and be responsible for tracking neighborhood problems and crimes that affect the overall quality of life in a neighborhood and require repeated patrol response.


Code Enforcement

Field Investigation Requests

Code Enforcement staff investigates reports that Building, Housing, or Zoning Regulations have been violated, including construction without-a-permit, substandard housing, and failure to comply with use and occupancy requirements and permits. If you suspect or witness an alleged violation, the City now has an on-line Field Investigation Request that you can use to report violations.

Please provide as much information as possible. Any information you provide will remain confidential to the extent permitted by law.

If you need help completing the form, have any questions about a potential violation or just need some clarification of City regulations, please call Code Enforcement at 781-7179 or 781-7588.

Revised Code Enforcement Procedures

On April 10, 2012, the Community Development Director presented the Neighborhood Wellness Update to the City Council at its regular Council Meeting. Among other things, the Update included information on the duties of the new Neighborhood Services Specialists and Neighborhood Parking Enforcement Officer. The Update also outlined a streamlined enforcement procedure for dealing with code violations so that city residents no longer have to wait for months before a violation in their neighborhood is addressed and corrected.

This is a fairly long report as it includes supporting documentation. However, it is a quick read, is very informative, and is available here: Neighborhood Wellness Update.




April 2, 2013 Cancelled

Study Session on Alcohol Outlet Regulations

During its 6:00 pm meeting, the City Council will conduct a study session on current state/local alcohol outlet regulations and will consider a moratorium on new alcohol outlets in the downtown. This meeting was originally scheduled for February 5, 2013. For more information, contact Doug Davidson, Community Development Department at 781-7177.