Pasadena mayor blasts state attorney general over SB9

Pasadena Mayor Victor Gordo and General Rob Bonta with Pasadena (Cityofpasadena, Oag.ca.gov, Visitpasadena)
Pasadena Mayor Victor Gordo and General Rob Bonta with Pasadena (Cityofpasadena, Oag.ca.gov, Visitpasadena)

Pasadena Mayor Victor Gordo has blasted California Attorney General Rob Bonta for alleging the city has failed to comply with a new state law that allows owners to divide single-family lots for development of up to four residential units.

The attorney general had taken aim at an emergency ordinance passed by Pasadena that allowed it to exempt areas from the Senate Bill 9 (SB9) law by declaring them “landmark districts,” the San Gabriel Tribune reported.

Pasadena says it fully complies with the law, and its mayor responded with a public letter refuting “several news reports, opinion pieces, a widely publicized letter, and even Twitter postings from the state’s attorney general.”

“Unfortunately, much of what is being reported about Pasadena does not conform to the facts,” Gordo wrote in an open letter to the residents of Pasadena. “Going forward, I respectfully encourage our Attorney General to get to know us before taking to Twitter to wrongfully and unfairly tarnish Pasadena’s good name – by now, we should all understand that governance by Twitter is ineffective.”

Bonta’s office did not reply to a request for comment from the newspaper.

Gordo’s 70-page letter to residents, Bonta, and an attached formal response from the city acknowledge the need for more affordable housing in California. He said Pasadena has approved 3,000 units of affordable housing, with 1,000 more now in the works

“But the approach of SB9 is wrongheaded and takes a cookie cutter approach by treating all cities the same,” Gordo said. “Pasadena is entitled to be proud of its many accomplishments, including its record of creating much needed housing – and as your mayor, I cannot allow this unfounded criticism to go unanswered.”

Despite opposition from hundreds of California cities, Gov. Gavin Newsom on January 1 signed into law SB9, which permits development of up to four residential units on single-family lots.

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Its backers say it will allow homeowners to ease the state’s housing shortage while protecting tenants from displacement. They say it creates a path for homeowners to establish multi-generational equity, while creating new housing locations for residents normally priced out of the market.

California must build 2.5 million homes by 2030 to address the current housing shortage, according to state housing officials. Of those, nearly half – or at least 1 million – should be affordable to low-income households.

Four Los Angeles cities – Redondo Beach, Torrance, Carson and Whittier – have filed a legal challenge against Bonta and SB 9 for stripping local control over zoning for single-family homes and neighborhoods. The petition asks a court to find the law in violation of the state constitution and ban its enforcement.

Other cities have also taken steps to try to stave off the law

Gordo’s letter echoed the petition, saying SB9 promotes “overdevelopment” and doesn’t require any units built on the divided lots to be affordable. .

“So, for no affordable housing, we now will get increased traffic, more demands on our infrastructure, higher property costs, and the destruction of our neighborhoods as we’ve known them,” Gordo said, reiterating that Pasadena is in full compliance with SB 9.

“It has even been suggested that we are considering declaring the entirety of Pasadena an historic or landmark district. This is simply untrue,” the mayor added. “Instead, the idea is to protect Pasadena’s unique architecture, the character of its neighborhoods, and the educational and cultural resources that the unique community holds.”

[San Gabriel Valley Tribune] – Dana Bartholomew