Solana Beach council approves law to regulate new construction under state housing bill SB 9

Solana Beach City Hall
(Staff photo)

The Solana Beach City Council approved an ordinance Dec. 8 that provides a set of guidelines for new housing that is built under SB 9, a state law that allows up to four units on lots that used to be zoned only for single-family homes.

The law also allows cities to impose their own standards within the parameters of the law. Provisions in the new Solana Beach ordinance include limiting the size of two new structures on a formerly single lot to 825 square feet each, parking requirements and which types of structures are protected from demolition, as required by SB 9.

Solana Beach resident Shawna McGarry said during public comment that she thought the local ordinance was too restrictive.

“I think we all know people who have been renting in Solana Beach who were successful in their careers, making a good living and contribute a lot to our town as community members, but ultimately had to leave Solana Beach as they were priced out of the market,” she said.

Kristin Brinner added that the city should come up with “more creative solutions that can make it more flexible and financially feasible for our city’s residents to provide homes for their families and future neighbors.”

Several other public speakers said they supported the ordinance to preserve more local control and the existing community character. Solana Beach Mayor Lesa Heebner emphasized that the new city law is within the terms of SB 9.

“We are doing this with ordinance 521 in consideration of the circumstances of our city, that we are a high land value city entirely in the coastal zone, and to honor our development patterns and the community priorities I’ve heard from the majority of our residents,” she said.

Heebner added that she did not believe more density, which has been a point of contention in the debate over how to best address the statewide housing crisis, would have a positive impact locally. The rest of the council agreed.

“Without this,” City Councilwoman Jewel Edson said, “we would end up overrun with development and it would be very sad, because we’d have a lot more high-priced homes that locals could not afford, and we’d have more gentrification and people leaving our city than should be, that are the fabric of our community.”

But state lawmakers, including SB 9 author Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, have prioritized density in many of the housing bills that have gone through the Legislature over the past several years.

“For too many Californians, the idea of owning a home, renting a house big enough for their family, or even just being able to live in the community where they work is a far-off dream,” Atkins said in a statement in September, when Gov. Gavin Newsom signed SB 9 into law. “This law will help close the gap and make those dreams a reality.”