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Housing and Homelessness

California AG Says Pasadena Is Coming Into Compliance With State Housing Law

Pasadena City Hall. (Andy Kennelly via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)
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California Attorney General Rob Bonta recently took Pasadena to task for exempting many parts of the city from a new state housing law. But now, the city is back in his good graces.

In a Tuesday press release, Bonta cheered Pasadena’s city council for passing a proposed ordinance that would update the city’s rules regarding SB 9, a 2022 state lawthat allows up to four units of housing on lots previously designated for one single-family home.

“Pasadena’s proposed ordinance, first considered by the city council [Monday] night, is a reflection of our successful collaboration with the City and an important step forward,” Bonta said. “We appreciate the City for working with us on this issue, and we hope the City Council will move swiftly to approve the ordinance in the days ahead.”

State lawmakers passed SB 9 with the goal of bringing moderate housing density to wide swaths of the state that ban apartment buildings through exclusive single-family zoning. The law allows homeowners to split their lots and build duplexes where single-family homes once stood.

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But many California cities prize suburban-style housing, and have sought ways around SB 9. Earlier this year, Bonta sent Pasadena a letter saying the city had violated the law by exempting dozens of “landmark districts,” a designation Bonta said was vaguely defined.

Bonta said Pasadena’s new proposed ordinance — which still needs final approval — includes stronger standards for “historic” areas seeking an exemption. He said this would prevent Pasadena from arbitrarily limiting SB 9’s application in broad areas of the city.

But Pasadena Mayor Victor Gordo said the city has not changed course. He said the new ordinance simply builds on the city’s original plan and will continue to exempt landmark districts.

“The attorney general simply got it wrong and unfairly targeted Pasadena,” Gordo said in a statement.

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