Bright side (maybe) of SB 9

IS SENATE BILL 9 the end of life as we know it? Maybe not (Shutterstock).

“I hollered before I was hurt.” – Ted Krec

Here’s a perspective that’s sure to raise some temperatures.

SB 9 is not the coming of the apocalypse.

Senate Bill 9, recently passed by our sometimes-wacky state legislature and signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom, is new legislation allowing property owners in single family zones to split their lot – if it’s big enough – into two lots and build two units on each, potentially turning one housing unit into four (two duplexes, for example).

Some folks have declared this “the end of single family homes.” One area office-holder proclaimed, “this is destroying our neighborhoods.”

While we don’t view SB 9 as the best idea since permanent press pants and caramel macchiatos, it may not be the catastrophe some people fear.

Let’s look at some aspects of this mess. Oops … we mean, change.

Such a lot split would require the new lot to be a minimum of 1,200 square feet. This  disqualifies some single-family homes in West Orange County. “New” housing developments built in the last 20 years or so have such small lots, you can’t even fit an accessory dwelling unit or a dog house on the property.

If you want an example of what we’re talking about, check out the Gardenia tract on Lewis Street at Garden Grove Boulevard, the former location of St. Callistus Church in Garden Grove. It’s a beautiful development, but if you trip and fall in the back or side yards, your head will bang into the fence.

The other issue is that, frankly, some of the housing stock in Garden Grove, Westminster, Stanton and even Huntington Beach is getting pretty long in the tooth. These were mostly smaller tract houses built in the Fifties and early Sixties. Some have been well-maintained and some not. Being old – 70 years or more – they have small rooms and fewer of them, with outdated electrical and plumbing systems. They’re not necessarily what hip new homebuyers are looking for.

Would it be so awful if some public-spirited developer – and they do exist, right? – bought up some tired old two-bedroom, one-bath boxes and eventually replaced them with brand new attractive housing?

There’s more to the issue, of course. There’s the impact of such changes on streets, sewers, traffic, etc. There’s also the issue of them being turned into “short-term-rentals,” although that’s prohibited. But we already have those problems, with nine people – renters or tourists – crammed into an aging structure that was passé  when disco was king.

To be clear … we’re not sending bouquets to the lawmakers who foisted this thing on us. But, as Ted used to say, “We have to stick around to see how it all works out.”

No longer a train to nowhere?

Whether you love or hate the new $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill pushed by President Joe Biden and passed by Congress, it is – as Joe said – a “BFD.”

The impact on Orange County is bound to be significant, and the Orange County Transit Authority– according to published reports – is expecting $1 billion from Uncle Sam.

THE OCSTREETCAR line could be extended with some of the $1 billion that might be coming to Orange County for transit uses (OCTA image).

This focuses our attention on the OCStreetcar project, now under construction and slated to begin operation in 2023. One local politico recently termed the light rail line – connecting Santa Ana to Garden Grove  – as “a train to no where.”

Not sure that Santa Ana is no where, but it’s definitely true that the line would be more useful if it covered more ground. There are drawings and maps already in existence at OCTA offices (and elsewhere) showing potential expansions of the OCStreetcar, both diagonally along the old Pacific Electric right-of-way and vertically north along Harbor Boulevard to the Disneyland area, then east on Katella or Orangewood to Angel Stadium and Honda Center and that ugly transit center in Anaheim.

Would a lot of folks like to hop on a train in Garden Grove and ride it to a big league baseball game, or Disneyland? You bet. And with $1 billion to play with, there’s more chance of that than ever before.

“Usually Reliable Sources” is posted on alternate weeks, trading places with Jim Tortolano’s “Retorts” column. Oh, and Ted Krec was the city editor for the old Orange County Evening News back in the day.


1 reply »

  1. I encourage you to drive down Roxey betwee Westminster and Trask. There are several ADUs you can readily see and the original houses have not been updated and look rather awful. There are two McMansions that look fine and give yourself a real thrill come on down in the evening and check out the parking situation many have resorted to buying orange cones to save spaces and trash cans are left out all week to save spots for parking.
    There aren’t any parks for the kids to play at, but 3 schools that stay locked up nights and weekends which could a terrific place to play if people weren’t so trashy and destructive.

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