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Why We’re Opposing SB 1092 (Blakespear)

Take Action! If you represent an NGO that can join our sign on letter against this bill, email Laura Walsh. We're also looking for people to attend the upcoming bill hearing on April 9 in Sacramento. lwalsh@surfriderorg.

Senate Bill 1092 was introduced this year to make it harder to appeal multifamily housing projects within the Coastal Zone in California. Bill proponents say that the Coastal Zone needs dramatically more housing, which we agree with. But of all the policy solutions that can be put forth to address housing in the coastal zone, this bill makes a critically flawed assumption: 

That the appeals process for multifamily housing projects in the Coastal Zone is an impediment to housing.

 We simply don’t see evidence to support this assumption.

It actually seems highly unlikely that the appeals process is to blame for holding up multifamily housing development in California because the Commission can’t consider appeals in the 88% of coastal municipalities that already have a certified Local Coastal Program (where local governments issue their own permitting) unless the development abuts sensitive coastal resources.

There's still the 12% of the Coastal Zone where local approvals can generally be appealed to the Commission — but in the last three years, 29 multifamily housing projects total have been appealed throughout the State. 24 have been approved by the Commission, 2 are pending and 2 were denied. In other words, a fraction of 1% of all permitting decisions in the state even get appealed, and 99% of the multifamily housing appeals receive approval from the Commission.

By the way, those two multifamily projects that the Commission denied both proposed to replace existing multifamily housing with more expensive housing that contained the same number of units — which would not actually increase California’s housing stock and would instead promote gentrification!

This detail offers a glimpse into one of the reasons why there is value in defending the current appeals process: It provides a backstop for the Coastal Commission (as the state’s arbiter of the Coastal Act) to determine whether projects approved at a local level are benefiting the community at large.

The appeals process allows the Commission to determine whether a project complies with the coastal access and resource protections of the Coastal Act, making sure there’s an opportunity to protect our beloved beaches, dunes and tidepools — plus the pathways to them — for everyone.

Surfrider will always maintain that safe, affordable housing and a healthy coastline should not be mutually exclusive. We support the appeals process as a backstop for Coastal Act review, especially since this process does not appear to be affecting the availability of housing in California’s coastal zone one way or the other.

We oppose SB 1092 and hope to support future efforts aimed at understanding and more effectively addressing the need for multifamily housing in the Coastal Zone.

Read more in our linked letters about why Surfrider, NRDC, and Azul are currently opposing this bill.

Read more about how SB 1092 is part of a broader trend of anti-Coastal Act legislation this year. 


Banner image by Carlos Bastia

Want to make a difference on this bill? We’re looking for people to reach out to Senator Blakespear’s office ASAP or attend the upcoming bill hearing on April 9 in Sacramento. If you think you’re a fit, email Laura Walsh