Marin Voice: The tide is turning — cities are battling for local control
By Susan Kirsch
Have you heard about Brisbane in San Mateo County, population 4,700, where legislators are threatening new regulations if local voters don’t change their General Plan? Why should you care? Because, if legislative trends continue, local voters’ wishes everywhere will be trampled.
Universal Paragon Corp. (UPC) has pushed to develop Brisbane Baylands for 12 years. It proposes 2,200 housing units and 7 million square feet (121 football fields) of commercial space on former railyard and sanitary landfill.
Brisbane residents — like any community with history, character, and pride — have resisted, based on concerns about toxicity, traffic, sea-level rise and infrastructure like water and schools’ capacity. The City Council recently voted 4-1 to amend its General Plan to favor UPC but agreed to put it to a vote in this fall’s election.
You might think a public vote would be the end of the story. But Brisbane’s Sen. Jerry Hill and Sen. Scott Wiener disagree. Wiener, author of SB 827 and SB 828, is also the force behind SB 35, one of 14 bills passed in 2017 that makes it easier for developers to build high-density housing, while dismantling local regulations of the General Plan, Housing Element, Design Review and California Environmental Quality Act requirements.
If voters reject the amendment, Wiener and Hill threaten to introduce legislation that would force Brisbane to comply.
This push to reduce local control is nothing new. In 1989, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development published the Not-In-My-Backyard (NIMBY) Report that contended local planning and zoning control were an impediment to affordable housing and private, for-profit development. Recently, big business, developers and big banking have backed a national Yes-In-My-Backyard (YIMBY) campaign.
UPC, taking a page from the YIMBY playbook, writes, “The region is in a housing crisis and every jurisdiction, including Brisbane, has an obligation to help meet the region’s housing needs.”
Really? Why is tiny Brisbane responsible? READ THE FULL ARTICLE