May 17, 2021 #1 Local News, Forum, Information and Event Source for Venice Beach, California.

Cities Chip Away at R-1 Zoning

By Tom Elias, Yo! Venice Columnist

It’s become like a rite of spring: Every year, state legislators reject the most radical of many proposals set forward by Democratic state Sen. Scott Wiener of San Francisco to make housing far more dense all over California.

But that hasn’t kept some of his ideas from taking hold outside the state Capitol, by a kind of process of osmosis based on the psychological reality that the more often people hear something, the less radical it can sound.

So it’s been with Wiener’s prolonged attack on R-1 zoning, which allows just one home per lot in areas zoned that way. Part of this gradual process was the passage two years ago of a new law letting homeowners everywhere in California convert garages into residential space or build small homes known as “granny units” in their backyards.

The idea didn’t draw much opposition, as it creates new housing while also giving new sources of income to longtime homeowners retired from their jobs who need income beyond pensions or Social Security.

But Wiener kept pushing in pre-pandemic speeches for more aggressive attacks on the single-family zoning he appears to consider an abomination. Some of his message has seeped in.

The best evidence came when the city of Sacramento in January took the first step toward ending R-1 zoning within its boundaries. You could call the almost certain new zoning category R-4 because it would allow rebuilding or restructuring existing homes into up to four units on every lot in previously one-parcel, one-home areas.

The new rule probably won’t be final until late this year, as it undergoes reviews within local government. Chances are, residents will be able to add multiple units to their property starting in 2022.

This has strong support from Mayor Darrell Steinberg, the termed-out former Democratic president of the state Senate. Referring to one leafy neighborhood of largish homes fairly close to downtown and the eponymous park it surrounds, he said, “Everybody should have the opportunity to not only play in Land Park but to live in Land Park.”

So far, only two other American cities – Portland, Ore. and Minneapolis – have similar zoning, and it’s too soon to see how the new reality will eventually look there.

But the idea is taking hold elsewhere in California. Cities like San Jose, San Francisco and Berkeley are among those planning similar zoning changes. A bill now in the Legislature would allow duplexes in most current single-family areas around the state. Another would allow up to eight units per lot.

As yet, there is no flood of developers flashing wads of cash before homeowners in R-1 neighborhoods. But that could come if the new units prove popular among current apartment dwellers in denser areas.

These shifts ignore two realities: One is that owning a freestanding house in an attractive area has long been a major component of both the American and California dreams. Wiener may decry urban sprawl as wasteful and profligate, but he ignores a basic human yearning to live surrounded by greenery and open space. The second reality ignored here is that more and more office buildings are becoming largely vacant as a side effect of COVID-19.

That change will not go away even as vaccines gradually slow and then end the pandemic. Thousands of white collar businesses from law firms and insurance companies to social media and stock brokerages have sent employees home to work, finding they are at least as efficient on their own. In turn, surveys show, the majority of workers miss neither cubicle life nor long commutes.

This has already spurred an exodus from big cities to more rural and suburban areas and cities with lower rents and home prices. Sacramento itself is a major destination, while rents have dropped in places like San Francisco and the Silicon Valley. At the same time, prices are up in more outlying areas including parts of the Inland Empire.

Economics dictates that eventually, all that newly vacant office space must become housing. Combine this with a spate of new duplexes, granny flats and four-unit structures and excess California housing could soon go begging, a far cry from the shortage that has lately bedeviled this state.

Elias is author of the current book “The Burzynski Breakthrough: The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government’s Campaign to Squelch It,” now available in an updated third edition. His email address is tdelias@aol.com

Related Posts

Tokyo-Style Pizza?

April 29, 2021

April 29, 2021

The Rose Venice’s Jason Neroni announces plans for former A-Frame space on Washington Blvd. By Kerry Slater A Venice-chef is...

Restaurant Spotlight: Tar And Roses Serves Up Wood-Fired Cuisine, Earthy Wines With Reopening

April 22, 2021

April 22, 2021

Popular SM restaurant back up and running By Toi Creel Far too many restaurants have fallen victim to the pandemic....

Mixed-Use Development Proposed for Windward Circle

March 23, 2021

March 23, 2021

Three-story townhouse project with restaurant planned for Main Street in Venice By Sam Catanzaro A developer wants to replace two...

Check out the 10 Venice Restaurants Taking Part in dineL.A.

February 25, 2021

February 25, 2021

First ‘spring’ season of culinary event to begin first week in March By Kerry Slater 10 Venice restaurants will participate in...

Venice Student Receives Education Award from The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Westside Coalition

January 21, 2021

January 21, 2021

Seven area students were presented Education Awards by The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Westside Coalition at the first-ever...

PIQUE Health Not Your Average Medical Practice

December 7, 2020

December 7, 2020

PIQUE Health is the very first comprehensive mens health center in Beverly Hills. With highly personalized treatment plans that fit...

Acclaimed Abbot Kinney Restaurant Closes 18-Months After Opening

November 25, 2020

November 25, 2020

Vartan Abgaryan says Abbot Kinney Boulevard restaurant Yours Truly will not be reopening By Kerry Slater An acclaimed Abbot Kinney...

Senior Housing Development Would Include 12-Stories, Over 100 Units

November 17, 2020

November 17, 2020

Belmont Village project to go before Westwood Design Review Board By Sam Catanzaro A 12-story, 153-foot-tall, senior housing project is...

Venice Getting Indonesian Restaurant: Westside Food Scene

October 22, 2020

October 22, 2020

Westside Food Scene October 22, 2020 By Kerry Slater New Indonesian Restaurant Opening in Venice A restauranteur has opened an...

Swimmer Abby Bergman is Fourth Person to Cross Santa Monica Bay

October 2, 2020

October 2, 2020

On September 3, Abby Bergman succeeded in swimming solo 27 miles across Santa Monica Bay in 16 hours 25 minutes...

Edify TV: National Women’s Health and Fitness Day!

September 28, 2020

September 28, 2020

September 30th marks National Women’s Health and Fitness Day, Here are a few fun activities to try out in celebration...

COVID-19 Could Have Been in Los Angeles as Early as Last December

September 15, 2020

September 15, 2020

UCLA study reports significant increase in coughs and acute respiratory failure prior to first official cases of COVID-19 By Sam...

Meditation Changed my Brain

September 8, 2020

September 8, 2020

I know the title sounds like something from the National Enquirer. But it’s true. When COVID was first announced and...