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In The Know: Let's Talk Housing



Housing Shortage

California and Long Beach do have a housing shortage. Even while hearing that people are leaving the State, we don’t have the needed housing stock in the right areas to both meet the demand and at the right price point. This includes upscale housing in southeast Long Beach.


Homelessness

Often the talk of affordable housing is in reference to the homeless. We must parse homelessness into its various iterations in order to see this, and this is not the intent of this article. There are homeless who need housing assistance due to a variety of personal and economic situations, and affordability could be a barrier. Then there are the homeless that we often see in our neighborhood who have mental illness or addiction problems. There is a disagreement over how to help them, some say housing first, which means get them housed and then deal with their challenges, and other experts think that you need to address the challenges in order for them to be successfully housed.


Affordable Housing

There are many hardworking, tax paying, citizens that cannot afford adequate housing at a reasonable distance from their place of employment. This is now the case for those who have good middle-class jobs. There are various categories of affordability.


Single Family Zoning

Naples is primarily a single-family residential community with some condos and apartments. New State laws have the potential of changing this over time. The State Legislature has basically eliminated single family zoning across the State with few exceptions. Cities have long been able to create their own zoning. Allowing density where it makes sense and protecting the character of the neighborhood in other instances. There has been an effort, often lead by State Senator Scott Weiner of San Fransisco, to actively change the face of neighborhoods across the State. SB9 is the most well know and with it there is some ambiguity with Naples as we are in the Coastal Zone and the City currently considers us exempt, but there is work in the Legislature to remove coastal zone exemptions.


There are many bills that tamper with existing zoning including lot splits, number of units, ADUs (granny flats), heights, setbacks, reducing or eliminating parking requirements, often ignoring lot size, and not considering the capacity of a municipalities’ infrastructure such as water and sewer lines, electrical connectivity to meet the additional demand on systems. Think a single-family lot being split into two lots with duplexes built on each with reduced parking requirements. If close to a transportation corridor, an apartment building could be built on a single-family lot. One could view this as the opposite of good planning, really it could be viewed as haphazard and potentially dangerous. It should be noted, that there is a motivation that is non-housing-shortage-related behind the elimination of single family zoning. Many of the elected officials and organizations are using zoning as tools to right the wrongs of the past and create tools to socially engineer existing neighborhoods.


Southeast Area Specific Plan

There has been much talk in the neighborhood about the apartment projects surrounding the intersection of Studebaker and PCH. The three locations are the Marina Shores Center (600 units), Congressional Place (281 units), and the Market Place Office Buildings (390 units). All three projects fall within the Southeast Area Specific Plan (SEASP) which was approved in 2017 after much public input. This replaced SEADIP which was approved in the 1970’s. 2nd & PCH was built under SEADIP. The one exemption to SEASP is the Congressional Place location that can build additional stories due to a density bonus because they included affordable units. This is through another State bill that overrides local planning. Naples is not in SEASP.


Conclusion

There are differing opinions on the above. The largest group on either side of the issue are Livable California and California YIMBY. Ask what you can do? Vote! Learn the policy positions on housing/single family zoning of those running. City, County, State, and Federal all have enacted laws or are looking at laws that strip local control. Reach out to our Mayor and the entire City Council and let them know your position. Reach out our State Senator and Assemblyperson, our County Supervisor, the Governor, and our Congressman. They are all involved, you just don’t often hear them talk about these issues!

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