Citizen Marin

A Letter to Marin Mayors & City Council Members Don’t wait. Initiate!

A Letter to Marin Mayors & City Council Members Don’t wait. Initiate!

Opposition SB 827 and SB 828: Housing Legislation Targeting Local Control of Community Planning

Susan Kirsch

The Marin County Board of Supervisors and many of Marin’s cities are to be congratulated. They followed the direction of the League of California Cities and submitted a Letter of Opposition to Senate Scott Wiener’s Bill 827.Cities are right to object. Wiener (Dem-SF) promoted his bill that mandates high-density housing in “transit rich” areas in a column in the Marin IJ on 2/25/18.

In 2017, Wiener pushed through legislation (SB 35) that required streamlining review for qualifying housing projects and relaxed decades of environmental law that protects neighborhoods from traffic congestion, inadequate parking, noise and air pollution, among other provisions that protect the health, safety, and character of our communities. The bill was one of 15 complicated housing laws that have been foisted into local housing and planning departments.

SB 827 follows in the footsteps of SB 35 and further undermines the power of local jurisdictions to plan and implement housing policy by over-riding local zoning laws under a variety of conditions. If passed, it will intensify the power of developers, the building and construction industry, big tech companies and bureaucrats in Sacramento to usurp local authority. SB 827 mandates 5 to10 story buildings along bus routes and at ferry and SMART terminals. We can expect a wave of city, regional, and state bond measures to fund this unbridled building spree.

Equally threatening is Wiener’s SB 828 to “reform” the state’s method of setting and enforcing Regional Housing Need Allocation (RHNA) numbers, effectively doubling our mandated housing quotas. However, on this legislation, the League of California Cities has been silent.Lacking initiative from the League, some cities are taking a “wait and see” approach to Wiener’s “placeholder” bill, so the onerous impacts of this law has been largely under the radar in most cities, with one exception: Mill Valley.

The Mill Valley City Council opted to combine opposition to both measures in one strong letter than says, “enough if enough.”Mayor Stephanie Moulton-Peters writes in the letter to Wiener, “the City is not a developer and does not control the number of new housing units proposed by private parties nor those approved and/or built in a given year. . . .To think that a local jurisdiction can accommodate 200% of RHNA is unreasonable.”

A “wait and see” approach puts our communities at risk. It gives Wiener the ball, which gives him the power to “run the clock” of the legislative session. He can wait until the buzzer is about to sound before he makes his move. Most of us won’t even know the clock is ticking and the League of California Cities won’t have time to act or alert cities. City staff won’t have time to put it on a City Council agenda or notify the public. Council members won’t have time to deliberate or submit a comment letter.Receiving few objections, members of the Senate Housing and Transportation Committee may assume cities and the public endorse the bill and will send it to the Senate floor.

And what will we do then? Will our elected City Council members or County Supervisors just shrug their shoulders and say, “We didn’t have enough time,?”

We, the citizens who live, work and shop here and support our police, firemen, schools, parks, and libraries with our taxes, will be stuck with SB 828 and another piece of our precious freedom of self-determination will be undermined by the state.

Cities, the County, and MMCCM have time to take action.

(1) If they haven’t sent a letter of opposition to both bills, they should send one immediately , as Mill Valley did.

(2) If the city hasn’t reviewed SB828, they should put it on the next agenda and take action.

(3) In a display of solidarity, the MMCCM should send its own letter of opposition, addressed to Senator Mike McGuire, Assemblyman Marc Levine, and the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee.

A growing number of neighborhood associations, homeowner groups, and grassroots coalitions are recognizing the threat of Wiener’s housing legislation.We urge you, our elected officials to be leaders. Get ahead of the curve and get to the front of the parade against SB 827 and SB 828.Please do not wait.Initiate! Kill these bills now!


Senator Mike McGuire –

Assemblyman Marc Levine –

Senator Jim Beall, Chair, Transportation and Housing Committee,

Senator Anthony Cannella, Vice Chair, Transportation and Housing,