A well-known San Diego lawyer is preparing to enter the fray of the heated debate about legislation that would make it easier to build denser housing near mass transit.
Attorney Cory Briggs said he opposes the transit-housing bill, SB 50, because it would destroy single-family neighborhoods in favor of luxury high-rises.
He said he is drafting a constitutional amendment that would address the power taken away from local communities to regulate development in that bill and in separate legislation, SB 330, that would roll back city and county home-building regulations for a decade.
Briggs said he plans to formally file the amendment in the coming weeks with the goal of getting it on the November 2020 ballot.
“We are going to try to do for homeowners and neighborhoods what Jarvis did back in the 70s: a grassroots campaign to protect homeowners and neighborhoods from the overreach of their government,” said Briggs, referring to Howard Jarvis’ property tax-cutting Proposition 13.
Though he declined to detail its specific components or who requested its drafting, Briggs said the constitutional amendment would apply retroactively. That would allow it to counteract housing legislation under consideration now that is ultimately approved.
The move makes sense for Briggs, given that he kicked off his mayoral campaign by presenting himself as an opponent to Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s plans to speed up home-building by easing parking requirements and other development regulations. He said he was hired to draft the amendment prior to announcing his mayoral ambitions, but acknowledged both campaigns were motivated by similar concerns about political efforts to loosen development restrictions.
Briggs is not alone in his opposition to statewide and local efforts to pursue changes designed to address California’s housing crisis.
The Linda Vista Planning Group voted recently to oppose SB 50.
“We had concerns about the effect that this legislation would have on the community character of the west side of Linda Vista along the Morena Corridor,” Chair Noli Zosa wrote in an email. “We are against any legislation that takes away community input for development in our city.”
A group calling itself Clairemont Cares is also opposed to SB 50, which it says is poorly thought out and would not alleviate the region’s housing problems.
“It removes the residents and community from having input in their own neighborhood, community plan, and their city as a whole,” said Julie Wilds, one of the group’s founding members. “While this may be convenient for government administrators, SB 50 will ruin the character, environment, and sustainability Californians have worked hard to create.”
Despite Faulconer’s embrace of YIMBYism, the mayor’s office told the Union-Tribune this week that he is neutral on the bill, and City Councilwoman Vivian Moreno, who chairs the Land Use and Housing Committee, also told the paper she is neutral on the bill and has no plans to bring a resolution on it forward.
After significant revisions were made, SB 50 was approved last week by a Senate committee. The bill, written by Sen. Scott Wiener, still has a long way to go and was recently amended to exclude coastal cities with fewer than 50,000 people.