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Guest Opinion: State Legislature may soon destroy California as we know it

Original post made on Jun 24, 2021

State lawmakers have decided that they know better than the rest of us how we should live. That is the message Sacramento is sending with dozens of bills that would all but destroy local control over housing and development.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, June 23, 2021, 4:57 PM

Comments (26)

Posted by Susan
a resident of Southeast Pleasanton
on Jun 24, 2021 at 8:46 am

Susan is a registered user.

Julie Testa sounds the alarm and every community should pay attention. Regional and state ambition, fueled by powerful Silicon Valley economic models, is ripping up small towns, autonomy, and democracy itself.


Posted by Jake Waters
a resident of Birdland
on Jun 24, 2021 at 9:13 am

Jake Waters is a registered user.

Thank you Vice Mayor Julie Testa for speaking up. It is so refreshing to see courage as yours for sounding the alarm. Why did it fall to you and not the Mayor to make this announcement? This is what has been whispered about by the elites and Democrats regarding taking over the suburbs to increase their power. The actions necessary go further than fighting these bills, it requires voting out Democrats that are behind these actions, and in particular, what they have done to our state. Where is Swalwell in all of this? I think I know the answer to that one.


Posted by Shirley Lewandowski
a resident of Dublin
on Jun 24, 2021 at 9:17 am

Shirley Lewandowski is a registered user.

Local municipalities know what is best for their respective communities. Current California state legislative housing bills being proposed are detrimental and threaten the fabric of local control of our cities and eliminates resident input to protect our quality of life and environment. These laws are unconstitutional. It is critically important to let our legislative officials know the overwhelming concerns of millions of Californians that legislators work for the citizens not the corporate and developer special interests who only know and care about the "$green$ at the bottom line". We are speaking out loud so they can hear us otherwise the ballot box will come election time!


Posted by Shirley Lewandowski
a resident of Dublin
on Jun 24, 2021 at 9:20 am

Shirley Lewandowski is a registered user.

Thank you Vice Mayor Testa for the courage and tenacity you have to make sure our voices are heard in Sacramento!


Posted by Ndna Jnz
a resident of Mohr Park
on Jun 24, 2021 at 10:10 am

Ndna Jnz is a registered user.

Thank you, Vice Mayor, for bringing this out to the Pleasanton citizens. We were not aware of any of this until receiving an email from PleasantonVoters.com the other day. This is very scary stuff. There are so many questions now. How can the people in Sacramento do this? It seems to be obviously unconstitutional. What’s the point of voting on local issues affecting your city if the state can just ignore all of that and tell us what we must do? Pure insanity. We, the people, MUST speak out to Sacramento and tell them "no!" And I hope Pleasanton can work with other East Bay and greater Bay Area cities to challenge Sacramento on these absurd bills. We will be watching the Pleasanton housing element community meeting tonight at 6 on Zoom.


Posted by VAB
a resident of Downtown
on Jun 24, 2021 at 10:13 am

VAB is a registered user.

I’ve seen it coming for many years,
It’s a big time power grab that if not stopped will be irreversible. Democrat voters, wake up, open your eyes, listen, pay attention to what is going on.
Today your town, tomorrow your property rights, eventually your country. You have been duped into believing that legislators know what’s best for you. Most of them have never had a real job where they actually had to earn a living.
They love the power. Wake up !!
Vote republican.


Posted by Jeff Nibert
a resident of Stoneridge
on Jun 24, 2021 at 10:22 am

Jeff Nibert is a registered user.

Vice-Mayor Testa is right. SB9 is WIMBY - Wall Street in My Back Yard. SB9 does nothing for affordable housing. This bad bill invites wealthy Wall Street giants to bid against families trying to buy a home. This is not just a duplex bill. As Vice-Mayor Testa said, it allows 4+ units where one home and its trees now stand, with no environmental review.
It's a radical experiment to allow single-family homes to become dense rentals owned by pension funds and rental giants.
Hundreds of thousands of Black and Latino homeowners will be targeted by WIMBY just because they live close to airports, freeways and major commercial centers. Just ask South Los Angeles and other communities where the majority of homeowners are people of color.
The other bad bill, SB10, will legislate the fantasy that, by building luxury condos, we'll get musical chairs that somehow end up being affordable houses. That is debunked trickle-down economics, and it just won't work. California should do what does work.
Yes, housing tied to income makes sense. Yes, that should be built. But just opening up land to developers and fabulously rich speculators, thinking more is cheaper, does not work.


Posted by Guillermo M.
a resident of Downtown
on Jun 24, 2021 at 10:27 am

Guillermo M. is a registered user.

Thank you Vice Mayor Testa for shining a light on (what unfortunately) has been endemic within the state and many local governments within California for over two decades. We can attribute this to the trickle down effect from the various entities embracing the UN Agenda 21 and from the complicity by groups like ABAG & ICLEI that are striving to break down the rule of independent counties, cities & towns, implement their “cluster/stack & pack” housing and create their utopian “One Bay Area” master plan.

The more information about these outright socialists that will finally expose their agenda is a win for citizens, home & business owners and workers throughout the Bay Area and all of California.


Posted by Jeff Nibert
a resident of Stoneridge
on Jun 24, 2021 at 11:13 am

Jeff Nibert is a registered user.

Vice-Mayor Testa raises the importance of local expertise within our local communities. This is not a partisan issue. In fact, the state Democratic Party convention last month refused to support either SB9 or SB10. Many Democrats, Republicans and independents alike are against this bad legislation (which, by the way, comes from Sacramento, not from Congress). There are, however, some courageous Democrats in Sacramento who are standing up in opposition, and they are to be applauded. And this has nothing to do with any "socialist agenda." Last, even trade unions have come out against these bad bills.

But this DOES have to do with money. Big Money. The people and organizations that are backing these bills are Wall Street financial giants, developers, and fabulously rich land speculators. By ripping away local expertise and the authority of our city officials, these wealthy backers will be able to run roughshod anywhere is California, with nothing to stop them.


Posted by Jeff Nibert
a resident of Stoneridge
on Jun 24, 2021 at 11:26 am

Jeff Nibert is a registered user.

Yes, we do want affordable housing and workplace housing that will enhance vibrant, diverse communities. But these bad bills will produce nothing affordable. The state knows that building sufficient affordable housing cannot be done without state subsidy. As Vice-Mayor Testa says, until Sacramento provides the tools and funding, the affordable housing crisis will not be relieved.


Posted by Brad
a resident of Birdland
on Jun 24, 2021 at 11:53 am

Brad is a registered user.

Julie Testa does make very good point about local control. However she also OVERSTATES a couple of facts:
1- the proposed legislation ( I also oppose it ) does NOT say the city has to build some 6,000 housing units over 8 years, RHNA has Pleasanton has to ZONE for those living units. There is a difference. Please remember our City lost a major lawsuit that cost us several million dollars AND resulted in ZONING 72 acres. Not all of those units have been yet.
2- NO ONE has proposed a 5 story building in Pleasanton since the 70's and that was denied. If fact Downtown DOES have a 40 foot height limit.

CONCERN IS APPROPRIATE. MISLEADING AND NON FACTUAL SCARE TACTICS IS NOT ACCEPTABLE.


Posted by Janet Chen
a resident of California Reflections
on Jun 24, 2021 at 12:11 pm

Janet Chen is a registered user.

Really? So we should just keep sprawling out and out and out? We should be building dense modern climate friendly cities that are bikeable, public transit rich and affordable to all types and kinds of people, not just the rich and/or the white.

This is not 1960s America where we will tolerate this racism anymore. We want dense communities that are pro-growth and pro-environment.

This country needs to tax single-family homes 3x to make sure that the planet that we so cherish survives and to stomp out NIMBYism. Land value tax would be ideal. Sprawl doesn't come cheap, environmental damage aside.

What we, the enlightened generation, really want are walkable, bikeable, public transit rich communities where we don't have to kill the environment to live happy lives. We want communities, not spread out jungles of sprawl. And we want to leave the rest of the space for nature to flourish.


Posted by Janet Chen
a resident of California Reflections
on Jun 24, 2021 at 12:35 pm

Janet Chen is a registered user.

Oh and one more reason to get rid of prop 13. You want sprawl? Pay for it. Don't make the young and the poor pay your share of taxes just because they happen to arrive later than you. Retirees in other 49 states do fine without this tax scam so will the retirees in California especially the ones sitting on million dollars in equity. That has to go and it will go the longer this segregationism and NIMBYism continues. We need to replace that with a land value tax to make sure we don't keep sprawling out for the sake of our kids, our planet and our economy.

And Vice Mayor, Karen I mean Julie Testa, we know your kind. Times are a changing and this 1950s era segregationist policies around zoning and keeping the 'wrong' kind of people out are not going to work anymore.

And to those that bring up Wall Street, the reason why they are interested is because there are immense profits to be made. Profits that exist only because of artificial scarcity caused by NIMBYism. Flood the market with millions of dense units and Wall Street will go look for other places to invest in.

We know that will drive the value of your home lower. But that is the point. Your home is not an investment and if you were led to believe that, well too bad. You still got time.

Shelter is for raising happy families that will eventually thrive and contribute to our economy in a climate-friendly way. NIMBYism is the exact opposite of that and that needs to stop. Enough already.


Posted by Ndna Jnz
a resident of Mohr Park
on Jun 24, 2021 at 1:06 pm

Ndna Jnz is a registered user.

Ms. Chen, in case you are not aware, the USA is a capitalist country. It appears you are somewhat shy on how that type of government works.


Posted by Janet Chen
a resident of California Reflections
on Jun 24, 2021 at 1:24 pm

Janet Chen is a registered user.

To Ndna Jnz,

Capitalism means that when there is demand, supply is allowed to come in and match that demand. Capitalism means free markets instead of the dictatorship that comes out of our zoning boards that tells the rest of us that only one type of climate destroying soul sucking single type of shelter that is single-family homes are allowed to exist. Capitalism means choice in the type and variety of shelter consumers have access to, not dictated to choose from.

This country also believes in private property rights. I own the property, I should be able to develop it the way I want within reasons. You didn't buy the neighborhood. You bought one home. Don't tell me what I can or cannot do with my property, of course within reasons.

And above all, capitalism will survive and thrive if this planet survives and thrives. We need to change the way we live for that to happen for the sake of our economy and our kids.

40,000 Americans die every year in road accidents and millions others are maimed for life. I dread the day that my son would ever have to drive but he will be forced to drive because of the way we have decided to live.

While in Japan, "Over the Shinkansen's 50-plus-year history, carrying over 10 billion passengers, there has been not a single passenger fatality or injury on board due to train accidents." That same is true in most of Europe and we need to bring that here as fast as possible to avoid a 9/11 type loss of life each and every month. That is only possible with eliminating sprawl caused by single-family zoning.


Posted by Shirley Lewandowski
a resident of Dublin
on Jun 24, 2021 at 1:33 pm

Shirley Lewandowski is a registered user.

Ms.Chen, please make time to thoroughly read through the details of housing bills SB9 and SB10 and you will find that your comments are not based on fact. Gentrification would be a key result of these detrimental bills and I ask you to speak to the many communities of color in California who worked so hard for many years to finally be able to afford a single family home to have and build their own generational wealth to pass on to their children and grandchildren. Density is intensity and does not result in real affordable housing nor support preservation of our environment and quality of life. Thank you for taking time to read up on these bills and their potential negative implications before commenting further.


Posted by Guillermo M.
a resident of Downtown
on Jun 24, 2021 at 1:35 pm

Guillermo M. is a registered user.

It truly saddens me to hear the very simple minded utopian comments from other immigrants touting the glorious virtues of “walkable, bikeable, public transit rich communities” as it only reminds me of the same old, tired rhetoric that was used over a half century ago & was the reason why my grandfather uprooted his family & emigrated to the United States. The ability to create a better life and future for his children, an opportunity to build and grow a business, to not be oppressed by his government or live in fear of rampant crime. I was taught this by my father at a very early age, have done my best to instill into my children and will continue to remind them of the warning signs that we are seeing right here in this country right now and to be weary of those who come with these grand, foolish and empty promises.


Posted by Christopher Kranich
a resident of Dublin
on Jun 24, 2021 at 3:02 pm

Christopher Kranich is a registered user.

Thank you for your comments Janet Chen. There are more people living in the state of California than just wealthy suburban homeowners in Pleasanton. The fact is that there is a severe housing crisis in the Tri-Valley and in the whole state. The wealthy homeowners in Pleasanton control the town and will not let new homes be built. They are worried that more supply will lower their property values. They are relying on giant property values so they will be able sell out someday and retire somewhere outside of California.

Just the Hacienda Crossing Business Park in Pleasanton alone has 20,000 people working in it. Most of them highly paid white collar professionals. Pleasanton needs to build more houses to mitigate the impact of having so many jobs in town.

Since most of the towns with job to housing imbalances are controlled by local politicians put there by well entrenched NIMBYS, and they are incapable of supporting anything not in their best interest, the state has to step in to end the housing crisis.


Posted by Janet Chen
a resident of California Reflections
on Jun 24, 2021 at 3:14 pm

Janet Chen is a registered user.

To Christopher Kranich,

Yup, we have tried local control enough. As much as we hate it, it is time to move that decision making to the center or else this NIMBYism is not only going to destroy our economy but also the sprawl that will be the outcome of this will cause our planet to burn. And not to mention everyone's quality of life.

Prop 13 is the biggest hindrance to progress. That needs to be replaced with a land value tax to get rid of this NIMBYism and climate arson.


Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jun 24, 2021 at 3:26 pm

Pleasanton Parent is a registered user.

Jante Chen lives in a suburban neighborhood in the exact home she is saying others shouldn't have.

"Rules for thee, not for me!"


Posted by Shirley Lewandowski
a resident of Dublin
on Jun 24, 2021 at 3:35 pm

Shirley Lewandowski is a registered user.

Janet, Sadly and unfortunately you have resorted to labeling people incorrectly and being disrespectful therefore not worth of further reply from me.


Posted by Janet Chen
a resident of California Reflections
on Jun 24, 2021 at 3:43 pm

Janet Chen is a registered user.

To Shirley Lewandowski,

Really? Facts equals labelling. What point do you think is not factually correct? Please enlighten the rest of us normal people.


Posted by Becky
a resident of Livermore
on Jun 24, 2021 at 5:26 pm

Becky is a registered user.

We are subsidizing Silicon Valley tech companies with housing and transit by building all these houses for their workers. The state needs to write laws that encourage SV companies to build offices in areas that need more jobs like Antioch. Apple and Google are the biggest landowners in SV, and the state's policies just make the value of that land skyrocket in this area. The state is really pushing increasing urbanization, while they neglect more rural areas.
And what the state is doing to small time landlords is criminal. They just extended the eviction moratorium until the end of the year, and very little money has been distributed. What are they supposed to pay their mortgage with? Alot of the tenants don't have a legal claim to stop paying rent, and they won't be able to ever re-pay the money. Then I guess the state can buy up all those properties and make them into low-cost housing. Because Newsom signed senate bill 1079, affordable housing organizations will have the right of first refusal to buy their properties when they go bankrupt.
Maybe the state should lower property taxes if they want to make housing more affordable.


Posted by Janet Chen
a resident of California Reflections
on Jun 24, 2021 at 5:45 pm

Janet Chen is a registered user.

To Ndna Jnz,

Karen means exactly what you thought it meant.

To Becky,

Don't blame the tech companies. Without them, the NIMBY landlords would literally starve. I blame Cupertino and every Bay area city that is complicit to not add dense housing when jobs are added. And that is because of rampant NIMBYism. I have got mine, screw you. Oh and I don't want to pay the tax to support the infrastructure caused by sprawl a la the prop 13 tax scam.

And hence people sprawl out to Pleasanton, to Dublin, to Walnut Creek, to the Central Valley, increasing sprawl and all sorts of climate disasters.

And somehow we are brainwashed into thinking that only single family homes are homes. Apartments are not homes. Well, there are many who beg to differ. In fact I would love to live in a community where my kids can play with their neighborhood friends without having to take them around on a play date in the damn SUV because we have decided to literally ban apartments. And SUV because normal cars are too unsafe to drive these days due to the crazies running around in giant pick-up trucks and Chevy Suburbans. Where does it stop? When everyone drives a tractor trailer?

We need to stop with this NIMBYism and design cities that are dense, walkable, bike-friendly and public transit rich.

SB 9 and SB 10 are just small steps in that direction but they are not enough. We need tons more in that direction and fortunately the tides are turning in that direction.

Enough with the segregationist NIMBYism. It is not the job of a business to plan for housing. It is the city council's job to do that. Why are they not doing their job? And hence the state comes in. It will come in more and more if this continues.


Posted by Becky
a resident of Livermore
on Jun 24, 2021 at 6:03 pm

Becky is a registered user.

Janet Chen, If you want that Urban Utopia, then it needs to be built from scratch, someplace else. Increasing urbanization is a big driver of homelessness. State tries to squeeze everybody into the same dense urban area, while more rural areas have no infrastructure, no healthcare.


Posted by Becky
a resident of Livermore
on Jun 24, 2021 at 6:08 pm

Becky is a registered user.

Janet Chen, It's also a City Council's job to deny new offices be built in their town, without building more housing. And Apple and Google are the biggest landowners in SV, so of course they like policies that make the cost of land go up.
And don't call people a 'Karen'.


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