City Council joins the push back against Senate Bill-9

City Council joins the push back against Senate Bill-9By BRIAN COSNER, News Review Staff Writer

The Ridgecrest City Council voted Wednesday to join more than 50 other California communities pushing back against Senate Bill 9 and advocating for local control of zoning ordinances.

California SB-9, an alleged repeat of the controversial SB-1120, would require local governments to approve densely packed housing developments regardless of previously existing zoning ordinances.

“People across the state are frustrated with the intrusion of the state legislature in how we run our cities,” said Mayor Eric Bruen as he introduced the item.

They approved a resolution of support for advocacy group California Cities for Local Control and its “oppose unless amended” position on SB-9. While not directly affiliated, the group shares its stance with the League of California Cities which made a similar determination last month.

SB-9 would require cities to grant approval to developers who would split single-family residence parcels into two lots with no requirement for garages or yards. The bill’s supporters seek to address the state’s housing affordability crisis.

But critics are concerned about the ability for developers to build duplexes and accessory dwelling units on each split parcel, effectively crowding four-plus potential residences on a single-family lot. All without regard to local zoning regulations.

While it’s difficult to imagine developers employing such extreme strategies in the Indian Wells Valley, members of council said the message was more about preserving local control.

“We should guide how the city is built,” said Councilmember Kyle Blades. “Who gives us input? The citizens. Not that the state is always ill-willed, but they don’t know our needs like we know our needs.”

Among the requested amendments from the League of California Cities are a restriction to two residential units and one ADU on the same parcel, required building permits within one year of splitting a lot, adequate access for police, fire and other services and to allow cities to determine appropriate lot sizes, parking standards and other parameters.

The City Council unanimously approved the resolution. City legal counsel Lloyd Pilchen clarified that by approving a resolution of support, the city wasn’t necessarily agreeing to any votes or decisions made by the advocacy group. Approval or support by the city for any specific action would have to come before the council again.

Story First Published: 2021-03-19