Attack on UGB and Community Separators: AB 1322 authorizes city councils and county boards of supervisors to unilaterally decline to enforce an adopted ballot initiative

Undermining the will of the voters is bad government…..

Attack on UGB and Community Separators: AB 1322 authorizes city councils and county boards of supervisors to unilaterally decline to enforce an adopted ballot initiative……

Greenbelt Alliance and other concerned groups/individuals, and we really need your help to defeat AB 1322, which would set a dangerous precedent by undermining California’s long tradition of direct democracy. AB 1322 would allow city councils and boards of supervisors to override the will of local voters.

AB 1322 authorizes city councils and county boards of supervisors to unilaterally decline to enforce an adopted ballot initiative if they believe it “conflicts with state law pertaining to housing,” which could include our UGB and Community Separator ordinances. This provision would undercut a fundamental tenet of our democracy: the right of voters to directly enact measures through ballot initiatives that cannot be overridden by their elected representatives. It’s also unnecessary, as local governments already have the option to resolve any concern about an initiative conflicting with state law through the courts. As an affordable housing advocate for 20+ years, I of course believe that the lack of affordable housing in California is a real and pressing crisis. If this bill actually promoted or provided affordable housing, while still safeguarding the initiative process, I’d be supporting it.  But it doesn’t.

AB 1322 includes no funding for affordable housing and no directives that would lead to an increase in housing. Just as importantly, ballot initiatives currently protect open space and farmland all over the state, discouraging sprawl and focusing development on infill and urbanized areas. AB 1322 would allow local elected officials to wipe off the books voter-approved urban growth boundaries and other measures that protect farmland and other sensitive lands, increasing sprawl and undercutting California’s climate, planning, and housing goals.  You can probably think of other voter adopted ordinances that could be at risk if AB 1322 is enacted.

Please see the attached sign-on letter for more information about why AB 1322 would be so damaging for both land use and the democratic process in California. Please help us defeat this harmful bill by adding your name and organization to this letter, which will be submitted to policymakers in Sacramento.

How you can help:

  • Fill out this form to add your organization as a signer of the attached sign-on letter (the letter is also available here).
  • Upload your logo here for inclusion on the final letter. If you would prefer, you may also submit your organization’s logo via email to adam.scow@gmail.com.

This matter is urgent. AB 1322 has already passed the Assembly with no formal opposition from the environmental, open space, or agricultural community, with Wood, Levine and Aguiar-Curry all voting for it. While we’re mobilizing now and are seeking to have the bill withdrawn, AB 1322 could be heard by the Senate Governance and Finance Committee as early as next Thursday, June 10th.

I’ll keep you posted as this moves forward, of course.  Please feel free to share this email with other organizations committed to increasing California’s housing supply without undercutting the democratic process or endangering essential voter-adopted protections for farmland and open space.

THANKS. Sonia

June 7, 2021
The Honorable Mike McGuire, Chair
Senate Governance and Finance Committee
State Capitol, Room 408
Sacramento, CA 95814
RE: AB 1322 (Rivas) OPPOSE
Dear Chair McGuire and Committee Members,
We respectfully urge you to vote NO on AB 1322 (Rivas), which would set a dangerous
precedent by undermining California’s long tradition of direct democracy. AB 1322
would allow city councils and boards of supervisors—by a bare majority—to override
the will of local voters.
The original version of AB 1322, as introduced by then-Assemblyman Bonta,
promoted affordable housing, while still safeguarding the initiative process. As
currently written, however, AB 1322 threatens California voters’ constitutional
initiative power with the potential to undo decades of protection for farmland and
open space.
AB 1322 authorizes city councils and county boards of supervisors to unilaterally
decline to enforce an adopted ballot initiative if they believe it “conflicts with state law
pertaining to housing.” This provision would undercut a fundamental tenet of our
democracy: the right of voters to directly enact measures through ballot initiatives that
cannot be overridden by their elected representatives.

Ballot initiatives currently protect open space and farmland all over the state, helping to
discourage sprawl and focus development on infill and urbanized areas. AB 1322
would allow local elected officials to wipe these measures off the books, increasing
sprawl and undercutting California’s climate, planning, and housing goals.
California must do better. We agree that the lack of affordable housing in California is a
real and pressing crisis. This bill does not provide funding for or otherwise promote
affordable housing, and it does not require cities or counties to approve any housing.
We would strongly support a bill that actually promotes affordable housing, while
still safeguarding the initiative process. We believe it is possible to achieve both
goals simultaneously. Unfortunately, the current version of the bill undercuts the democratic process without providing any funds or clear incentives to actually build
more housing, affordable or otherwise.

The sponsors of the bill claim it would “honor local control” and “prevent needless
litigation.” In reality it would do just the opposite. It would eviscerate the single most
important form of local control—the constitutional initiative power, which allows the
voters to directly enact local laws when they believe their local officials have failed to
act wisely or responsibly.
The bill also guarantees more litigation, not less. In fact, one of the two main things the
bill does is to authorize local officials to initiate new litigation at any time—even years
or decades after the voters adopted a measure—creating new uncertainty about long established land use policies and potentially costing cities and counties hundreds of
thousands of dollars. Moreover, the courts already have the power to remedy any
situation where an adopted initiative prevents a city or county from complying with
state laws—including state housing laws.
We, the undersigned, urge you to vote “NO” on AB 1322, which is rife with
unintended consequences and short on specifics for how it will make a meaningful
difference in our state’s affordable housing crisis.
Sincerely,
Name, Title
Organization
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