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On December 14, 2021, the Sacramento City Council will hear the draft interim SB 9 ordinance. It is critical that they hear from constituents now.

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Update: The petition initiated by Save Sacramento Neighborhoods in March is now closed. Over 560 signatures were sent to the Sacramento City Council and many people sent their own messages asking the City Council NOT to densify existing single family neighborhoods.

*On what is now one single family lot, the draft Sacramento General Plan would allow up to 6 units, SB 9 up to 8 units and SB 10 up to 14 units.

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Message to the Sacramento Mayor and City Council

Dear Sacramento Mayor and City Council.

It is very unfortunate that SB 9 and SB 10 have become law and I urge the City Council to mitigate and prevent their negative impacts as much as possible.

I urge you to support these important provisions now included in that draft ordinance that help mitigate impacts:

1) Holding the line at 4 units by NOT allowing additional ADUs to be built on lots split under SB 9.
2) Not allowing lots smaller than 1200 square feet.
2) Keeping existing allowable zoning setbacks and lot coverage requirements.
3) Not allowing short term rentals or non-residential uses.
4) Requiring compliance with Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions or Homeowner’s Association rules. 

I also urge the City Council to amend the draft ordinance to include these important mitigation measures in the ordinance:

1) Tree protections. Preserving Sacramento’s tree canopy is critical for health and heat reduction. Applications for an SB 9 unit should not be an accepted reason for approval of a tree removal permit. In addition:
1) applications for an SB 9 unit should include assessment of all existing trees on the proposed lot, 2) SB 9 plot plans must include setbacks that preserve space for at least one canopy tree, including appropriate permeable surface, as well as a plan for irrigation, and 3) ministerial approval of SB 9 units should be based on tree canopy goals as established in the Urban Forest Master Plan.

2) Parking. The draft ordinance specifies that parking provisions can be waived if there is a car share vehicle within a block of the lot. This is a meaningless requirement and must be changed to at least specify that the share car is available at regular intervals throughout the day. Simply having a car share vehicle temporarily parked on a street does not mean that car share vehicles are generally available, which is the only logical interpretation of this provision. Further, the City should encourage one on-site parking space per car, even when it is not required. Onsite parking is critical to reducing street congestion, allow people to park where they live, and to provide for future e-vehicle charging, furthering our sustainability goals.

3) Affordability. SB 9 and other densification proposals are being pushed because of the need for affordable housing. Without requirements for affordable units, none will result. The city should require that lot splits should require a minimum of one affordable housing unit listed on the California Department of Housing and Community Development registry of affordable units for a period of ten years or more or pay an in-lieu fee to discourage gentrification through Investment trusts.

4) Protect open space. Because SB 9 requires that two 800 square foot units be allowed on any lot split under SB 9 AND allows lots as small as 1200 square feet, preserving lot coverage requirements (maximum of 50% in R-1) can be a problem. The ordinance needs to address this specifically by including that where lot size cannot accommodate two 800 square foot buildings AND maintain lot coverage requirements, buildings must be two story.

5) Public notification. At a minimum, public notification for applications for lot splits or building permits under SB 9 should include routing to area neighborhood associations and readily visible posting at project sites. (This is mentioned in the staff report but not included in the ordinance.)

Further the City Council must take appropriate action to publicly clarify and assure that it will not implement SB 10. This law takes effect January 1, 2022 and allows a City Council with a majority vote to approve up to 14 units on what is now one single family lot with no public review or input or consideration of environmental concerns.

I join with neighbors across Sacramento who oppose the densification of our single family neighborhoods. Existing zoning already provides for duplexes and up to two Accessory Dwelling Units on single family lots – this is enough. The City Council must recognize that people off all economic and racial groups want single family neighbors and act to preserve the lower density character and livability of these neighborhoods.