Senate Bills 9 and 10, take effect Jan. 1, 2022. Signed into law by Governor Newsom in September 2021, these bills would make it easier for Californians to build up to six additional housing units on many properties previously reserved exclusively for single-family homes. This approach gained credence in Sacramento because of heavy pressure from housing developers, but also because some State Legislators came to believe that placing housing units near transit stops would lead to more transit use and therefore less traffic congestion.
This conclusion was reached despite MTC’s Plan Bay Area 2050 projection that adding 1.54 million new housing units between and 2015 and 2050 would do little if anything to improve transit’s dismally low percentage of commute trips, much less non-commute trips. In fact, despite PBA 2050’s emphasis on affordable housing and expansion of transit services, its projections show that by 2050 there will be at least 2.5 million additional personal vehicle trips a day on the region’s roadways and that even with a 110 percent expansion in transit miles operated, only about 3% of the region’s jobs would be accessible within 45 minutes by transit; versus 18 percent within 30 minutes by personal vehicle. Under the circumstances it seems evident that higher residential densities created if the two bills are left to stand will inevitably lead to more congestion in the region’s urban neighborhoods and communities and more barriers put in place of good transit travel.
Senate Bills SB 9 and 10 are among the most contentious bills to ever get through the California legislative process. They face broad opposition because they largely override local government’s zoning and land use decision-making, disrupt established and stable neighborhoods and yet provide no assurance that they would either create more affordable housing or significantly increase transit use. It appears that in 2022 these highly controversial bills will face one or more State ballot propositions designed to rescind them.