Friday, August 26, 2011

SB1818: A Monolith on a Millimeter

You’ve got to recognize the fault with Senate Bill 1818 almost immediately: it is called the High Density Bill. It could be more accurately named: the high density, no restrictions, no safeguards, no holds barred, destroys your neighborhood, makes a mockery of your specific plan, couldn’t care less about your community, bill…

Who fell for this foolishness? Well never mind; now we have to disprove its validity for use in our town of Tujunga. Lawsuits have been filed by other communities against it; we also have to file down its teeth before it chews this community up and spits it out. And we have to be quick about it as the SB 1818 Samoa Apartments are moving forward rapidly since they are bypassing the reviews and restrictions required by other projects.

SB 1818 is the reason we have this whole fiasco over the wretched plans to build on two lots on Samoa Avenue in Tujunga. This Senate Bill literally threatens to destroy a Tujunga neighborhood, a Tujunga historical landmark (nearby Bolton Hall), Tujunga community and lifestyle, endanger current and future residents with increased traffic and crime associated with overcrowding, school age pedestrian endangerment, flooding from undirected rainwater runoff,  and more.

SB 1818 was supposed to give builders incentives to create more affordable housing which is a good thing, right? Not this time! It allows developers to build bigger buildings than allowed if it is “affordable” housing. A four story building can be built where only two stories are allowed.

SB 1818 is exempt from many other requirements as well. When SB 1818 is put into the mix it allows privileged builders to bypass many essential regulations and reviews. Chief among these is the environmental act, Specific Plan demands, public review, and regulations of numbers such as parking spaces per occupancy and allowable number of units on a lot.

The only benefits derived by SB 1818 are those garnered by the developers, who build bigger, more expensive buildings on smaller, less expensive lots and bypass the usual restrictions for a fast track to disaster.

SB 1818 passed the legislature way back in 2005 but typically when a disaster passes you by, you breathe a sigh of relief and let it go. SB 1818 amends state law; in 2008 Mayor Villaraigosa signed into law the ordinance to Senate Bill 1818, giving developers free rein to build bigger apartment complexes than are actually allowed on the available land. This year SB 1818 has come to Tujunga in the guise of an “affordable” housing project. Disaster has hit home.

Let your voice be heard and your view be known: attend the next STNC Land Use Committee Ad Hoc meeting re: SB 1818 and the Samoa Apartment Project on Tuesday, August 30th from 7:30-9:30pm at North Valley City Hall 7747 Foothill Blvd in Tujunga.

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