Ballot Initiative Would Target California Housing Statutes

A series of housing laws signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom has prompted a group of city officials in Santa Clara County and across the state to organize an initiative they say will help bring land-use decisions back to local jurisdictions.

The “Our Neighborhood Voices” initiative, which includes endorsements from some South County officials, seeks to amend the California Constitution to allow local land-use and zoning laws to override conflicting state laws.

Proponents are targeting laws such as Senate Bill 9, signed by Newsom in September and which took effect Jan. 1, which allows for a property zoned single-family to be split for a duplex without a public hearing, if it meets various requirements.

Senate Bill 10, which also took effect Jan. 1, allows any parcel to be zoned for up to 10 residential units if it is located in “transit-rich” areas or is considered an urban infill.

Supporters must collect just shy of one million signatures in order for the initiative to be placed on the November ballot.

The Gilroy City Council voted 5-1 on Dec. 6 to endorse the initiative. Gilroy Councilmember Carol Marques, who is taking the lead on the signature-gathering in Gilroy, said the city was approached by Redondo Beach Mayor Bill Brand, an initiative proponent, to join the organized effort to “bring back local control.”

“The whole premise behind Our Neighborhood Voices is that residents should have a voice on how their cities are going to look and how their neighborhood is going to look,” she said. “We want Sacramento to listen to what the people are saying.”

The four-page text of the initiative states that “Community development should not be controlled by state planners, but by local governments that know and can address the needs of, and the impacts upon, local communities.”

“This is not one size fits all cities,” she said. “What’s good for San Francisco and Los Angeles might not be good for smaller cities.”

“SB9 is a duplex bill with tenant protections,” said fellow councilmember Zach Hilton. “We have objective design standards that are meant to create a human-scale environment and buildings that are compatible with and enhance the surrounding area. We should be focusing on creative ways for housing all generations, while breaking down barriers to renters and home ownership.”

The initiative’s proponents are United Homeowners’ Association co-founder John Heath, Yorba Linda Mayor Peggy Huang, Brentwood City Councilmember Jovita Mendoza and former San Francisco Planning Commissioner Dennis Richards.

Local officials listed as supporters on the initiative’s website include Gilroy Mayor Marie Blankley and Morgan Hill City Councilmember Rene Spring.

Major financial contributors to the initiative include $200,000 from Alameda retiree Reyla Graber, who has contributed to many Democratic candidate campaigns over the years, $50,000 from the AIDS Healthcare Foundation in Los Angeles, and $10,000 from Dallas, Texas-based Roven Productions Inc.


  1. Senate Bill 9 & 10 are unwarranted ‘taking’ of property (property value) from a property owner, for the express transfer of wealth, to those who cannot afford to purchase a home on their own hard work and or value to society.

    Is the super-majority of Democrats in the legislature really masquerading as the physical and spiritual embodiment of a Communist Manifesto?

    Lenin would be proud.

    David S. Wall

  2. Mr. Wall,

    I think it will be interesting to see how the Originalist Court will interpret precedent when considering the many instances of takings we see in blue states. It seems as if Prof Richard Epstein’s shadow on the court is getting longer with the three Justices that came in under Trump. While I think SB-9 may end up being one of the first challenges, as it will have a lot of political support from cities, it may be useful to begin donating to Pacific Legal Foundation to begin unwinding much of the mess we are in. Getting a bunch of cases in the pipeline may bear serious fruit in 5-10 years. Unless they somehow pack the court, which does not seem likely with the pendulum swinging back in 2022/24. But we are we may be in an age not seen since Lochner. The best outcome would to completely irradicate just cause evictions, or as I call them free life estates, which seem to me the most insidious of the infringements on property rights and contracts. Perhaps them, some of these owners will no longer hold CA roughly 100K voluntarily vacant units and these poor renters will get some relief.

  3. I signed the petition and everyone else should too. This just one more example of why we should stop voting the crazies into office and allowing them to run the place. In the end, we did vote and continue to vote for the crazies and their dumb ideas so at least it’s easy to see who to blame. For the majority of California voters all you have to do is just look in the mirror.

  4. Everyone should join the petition, as I did. This is one another illustration of why we should stop electing lunatics to government and letting them rule the country. In the end, we did vote for the lunatics and their ridiculous notions, so at least it’s clear who the culprits are. All you need to do to win over the majority of California voters is to simply glance in the mirror.

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