Dear Palo Altans
I want to bring your attention to the proposed Senate Bill 35 (SB
35), which would pre-empt local discretionary land use
authority. It would provide approvals of multifamily
developments that meet inadequate criteria by using “ministerial”
actions, bypassing the California Environmental Quality
Act (CEQA) and public input.
I urge you to write to our Senator Jerry Hill and Palo Alto City
Council. (See below for a sample letter provided by the California
League of Cities, which is officially opposing this bill.)
Please write ASAP.
While SB 35 is made out to address the state’s housing needs, it
would nevertheless be virtually impossible to build affordable
housing because SB 35 requires that all housing built
under this mandate must ensure that the “prevailing wage” requirement
is included in all contracts, including subcontractors, for the
performance of the work. Low-cost housing will not be low cost to
On average, “affordable housing” costs approximately $500,000 -
$600,000 per unit to build around the Peninsula. Requiring affordable
housing to be built exclusively by union workers will mean
that the units will not be “affordable” without taxpayer
subsidies. Taxpayers = we residents mostly. The ramifications
due to these developments will be huge, including traffic congestion;
parking issues; overburdened city services such as the use of public
parks and open space, schools and so much more.
SB 35 will have significant impacts on our communities and many
other communities in California. The author of the bill redefines
the geographic terms “suburban” and “urban” in order to subject
communities to fast-track “by-right rule,” fostering high-density
housing. Under his definition, even a village is an “urban
cluster” which could mean that even cities such as Los Gatos,
Saratoga, Woodside and Portola Valley could be designated as “urban”,
thereby allowing big-time developers to build without the pesky
environmental review or public engagement and input. Palo Alto,
under the leadership of the past and present pro-development Council
majority, has made certain that Palo Alto fits under the “urban”
Former San Francisco Supervisor, now Senator, Scott Wiener, is the
author of SB 35 and is strongly supported by construction trades
unions. SB 35 is one of many bills trying to exploit the
affordable housing crisis to the benefit of the author’s financial
supporters at the expense of residents.
What can you do?
1) You can use the sample letter of opposition on the California
League of Cities website, http://www.cacities.org/Policy-Advocacy/Action-Center/SB-35-(Wiener)-Affordable-Housing-Streamlined-App
- In the highlighted CITY OF CITY, please enter
resident of City of
- Scroll down to the yellow highlighted section and enter any
specific examples of the impact of this bill on your city/town (delete
the highlighted text)
2) Write letters declaring that this bill, SB 35, violates your
democratic rights and it must be OPPOSED. Email addresses as
3) The sample letter below is a reduced and edited version of the
sample letter from the California League of Cities opposing SB 35.
Feel free to copy and use it instead.
I am a resident/citizen of the City of Palo Alto and I am writing
in opposition of Senate Bill 35 (Wiener) and urge you to oppose SB
SB 35 would pre-empt local discretionary land use authority by
making approvals of multifamily developments that meet inadequate
criteria into “ministerial” actions thereby bypassing the California
Environmental Quality (CEQA) and public input.
Eliminating opportunities for environmental and public review of
major multifamily developments goes against the principles of local
democracy and public engagement. Public hearings allow members of the
community to inform their representative of their support or concerns.
SB 35’s purported “streamlining” in the context of SB 35 does not
allow for the democratic process and will only increase public
distrust in government and additional ballot measures dealing with
Please oppose Senate Bill 35: It is not fitting under the basic
guidelines that help govern how democracy work – Equity,
Representation, Freedom and Justice.