Upzoning Letter

April  22, 2022 (Earth Day)

To Sacramento City Council:

As residents and representatives of Sacramento neighborhood associations, we continue to be concerned about our neighborhoods, affordable housing, and the negative impacts of upzoning in the 2040 General Plan as well as in State legislation affecting local land use.

We ask you to take the following actions:

1. Preserve and protect R-1, single family zoning and neighborhoods. The City Council must recognize the value and importance of preserving Sacramento’s diverse existing single family neighborhoods.

     Specifically the Council must:

a) Clearly state in the 2040 General Plan that there will be no further upzoning of neighborhoods now zoned for single family, including R-1 beyond what is currently allowed (2 ADUs) and under the recently adopted emergency ordinance (OR2021-0035) to implement state-mandated SB 9.

b) Pass a resolution that it will not implement SB 10, which unlike SB 9 is optional. 

c) Maintain the existing R-1 restrictions and oppose any simplification of land use designations.

d) Adopt design review standards that require any additional units added to existing single family lots must be in keeping with the with the predominant historic residential architectural styles, height, massing and scale in the neighborhood.

e) Encourage the provision of on-site parking. 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.

f) Change the SB 9 ordinance to state that parking provisions can be waived ONLY if there is a car share vehicle that is available at regular intervals throughout the day.

2. Protect and increase Sacramento’s Tree Canopy.  Sacramento’s tree canopy is absolutely essential to environmental quality and ensuring the livability of our city, its protection means that adequate space must be made for trees and existing trees protected.

     Specifically the Council must amend the SB 9 ordinance to:

a) State that applications for an SB 9 lot split or additional unit should not be an accepted reason for approval of a tree removal permit. 

b) Require that applications for an SB 9 unit include assessment of all existing trees on the proposed lot(s).

c) For any private protected tree removed to build an SB 9 unit, the applicant must be required to comply with the city’s tree replacement plan or pay an in-lieu fee into the city’s tree planting and replacement fund.

d) Require that SB 9 plot plans include setbacks that preserve space for at least one canopy tree, including appropriate permeable surface, as well as a plan for irrigation.

e) Prohibit ministerial approval of SB 9 units unless the proposed lot split or units are consistent with the tree canopy goals as established in the Urban Forest Master Plan.

f) Require that where lot size cannot accommodate two 800 square foot buildings AND maintain lot coverage requirements, buildings must be smaller or two story. 

3. Assure that all neighborhoods have equitable amenities. Specifically, the City Council must adopt policies and take specific actions to ensure that every residential neighborhood in Sacramento has safe streets, good schools, parks, trees, and other quality of life amenities. Building more market-rate housing in neighborhoods with amenities is not going to rectify the amenity disparities that now exist between neighborhoods.

4. Genuinely provide housing diversity. Upzoning to eliminate single family neighborhoods, including through SB 9 and SB 10, does not provide housing that is affordable to lower and moderate income households. One-size-fits-all upzoning also does not address existing geographic disparities in the location of market-rate and affordable housing. Upzoning can exacerbate the high concentrations of lower income housing in some areas while simply densifying the market rate housing in other areas. Just building more housing units does not make that housing affordable.

Specifically, the City Council must take these and other actions

a) Adopt policies that will actually increase the amount of affordable lower and moderate income housing. These policies can include city-wide inclusionary zoning on projects of four or more units and assistance for moderate and lower income renters and first time homebuyers.

b) Assure that NO ADUs will be used for short term rentals as this completely defeats the purpose of adding these additional units to existing neighborhoods.

c) Take steps to prevent or curb the purchase of single-family homes by investors, turning these into rentals rather than providing homeownership opportunities.

d. Assure that there is equitable geographic distribution of both market rate and affordable housing.

5. Address Homelessness. The City Council must take specific actions to:

a) Prevent individuals who are now housed from becoming homeless including through gentrification.

b) Provide housing and services for the homeless.

c) Provide for temporary shelter, including properly located safe ground areas, that do not have an adverse impact on existing residential neighborhoods.

6. Assure transparency/Public input.  The City council and city planners must improve communications with and responsiveness to the public including neighborhood associations and other groups representing neighbors including by:

a) Reinstate public face-to-face City Council meetings so that the public can be present and address the council directly and in person.

b) Significantly increasing public notice of any actions affecting land use. 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. 

c) Significantly increasing the time given for public input. End fast tracking for all projects.

d) Inform and solicit input from all neighborhood associations of proposed land use changes, including in the General Plan. Do not use surveys with leading questions.

e) Unless state law specifically requires ministerial review, disallow ministerial review for any land use changes or projects that potentially affect neighborhoods.

f) The City Council must commit to making decisions reflecting all of their constituents, not bending to economic pressures or interests.

7. Address the drought and climate change. The City Council must take into consideration the drought and implications of climate change. Sacramento, like the rest of California, has a carrying capacity based on available water. As water becomes even more scarce, building moratoriums may be needed to assure that there is enough water for people AND the environment including for trees, bird, and wildlife habitat.

Sincerely,

Save Sacramento Neighborhoods (citywide)

Valley View Acres Neighbors Working Together (District 1)

Robla Parks Neighborhood Association (District 1 & 2)

Del Paso Heights Community Association (District 2)

Noralto Neighbors United (District 2)

Woodlake Preservation (District 2)

Natomas Community Association (District 3)

East Sacramento Preservation (District 4)

Mangan Park neighborhood Association (District 5)

Elmhurst Neighborhood Association (District 6)

Bless Child Community Association (District 8)

Deerfield Mesa Grande Neighborhood (District 8)

Meadowview Neighborhood Association (District 8)