Look what just slipped past most of us 😲

We’re all busy. I get that.

Heck, I was in a zombie haze the first 10 years of my daughter’s life. The next 10 were only a little less zombie-like. LA is busy and we’re all crazed with commitments pulling us in a thousand different directions.

Unfortunately, life continues on with or without us paying attention.

Fortunately, I’ve got your back on the topic of the crazy new housing legislation the governor signed into law last week.

Where Did Single Family Zoning Go?

SB9 & SB10 are at least five years in the making and have been pushed almost exclusively by one senator from San Francisco named Scott Weiner (transplanted from NJ), along with a lot of support from a powerful senator in San Diego named Toni Atkins (who happens to be be married to a developer).

These bills allow high density building on single family lots and are widely considered to be the “end of single family zoning” in California, although many would argue that the ADU laws a couple of years ago already did that.

With these bills, you can keep your single family home on your lot, but you can’t expect your neighbor to do the same.

Both bills were passed by the legislature in August and signed into law by our governor, fresh off his big recall victory

These bills Will End The Housing Crisis, Right?

Versions of these bills from preceding years always required affordable housing units.

Inexplicably, this year was the exception.

The bills don’t require affordable units and they don’t require the units even be sold. You tell me whether more market rate luxury units are going to fix our housing crisis.

What Is In These Bills?

SB9 allows a ministerial lot split and has been referred to by proponents as a harmless “duplex” law. What they ignore is that ADU laws passed at the state level a couple of years ago already allow owners to put one primary unit, one Junior ADU and one regular ADU on each lot.

Three units on each split lot is NOT a duplex law.

No parking is required and no infrastructure contributions are required by the builder. No HOA or historical districts can prevent this law. No city or community pushback is allowed and good-bye to covenants like those that protect Candy Cane Lane.

Literally, a “ministerial” application means that the applicant shows up at the city desk and gets the permit without any additional discussion.

One of uglier aspects of these laws is that under the guise that it is somehow exclusionary and racist to own a single family home, proponents of these bills are now putting a target on the home owners in low income communities and communities of color, which are already being described in the media as “high opportunity zones.”

In fact, I recently presented on this topic in front of a community group and an audience member who is a real estate agent commented that his clients are already looking for property to develop and are specifically interested in “lower priced communities.” 

We’re all “lower priced” to somebody, but can you imagine what is going to happen to our most vulnerable, lower priced areas??

I also want to mention that this eradication of single family zoning has already been tried in at least two urban communities and it was a spectacular disaster. 

One size simply does not “fit all” when it comes to urban planning. And many days I’m not even sure Northern CA and Southern CA should be the same state. What does transplant Scott Weiner even know about our end of the state? And Toni Atkins is in San Diego, a city that is downright provincial and totally removed from everything.

In case I haven’t painted a dire enough picture, let me add that SB10 is worse than SB9. SB10 allows 10 units on a SINGLE FAMILY LOT in “transit-rich areas” and urban infill projects. Most of urban LA, including our community, will likely fall within transit rich areas.

And did I mention that the definition for “transit rich” is slippery? In fact, I believe it can be defined by transitory bus routes. 

ADU laws can probably also be applied to SB10 because these are single family lot developments. To accommodate 11 units, development will have to be vertical. I call these projects “middle fingers to the neighborhood.” NO AFFORDABLE UNITS. Thankfully, high fire zones are excluded, which is not the case with SB9.

We Just Got Hammered

I cannot overemphasize how devastatingly disruptive these bills can be. And for what? Not for affordable housing. No, we just got screwed so developers can build more luxury rate units cheaper and pocket the difference.

Proponents of these bills used their huge developer-backed budgets to scream about racist single-family zoning and fixing our housing crisis, yet these bills do nothing but exacerbate the affordability of housing and will decimate communities of color.

It bears noting that the City of LA and hundreds of other cities passed resolutions opposing these bills. Sacramento, drunk on its own power, didn’t even blink.

Is It Still Possible To Stop This Impending Disaster?

Sadly, these laws are now on the books. Developers can start buying up properties and start development as of January 1st. Projects started can’t be undone.

But there is one ray of hope.

A group led by Bill Brand, Mayor of Redondo Beach, called “Californians for Community Planning” filed paperwork in August for the next ballot in November 2022.

This group wants an amendment to our state constitution to require that planning and land use be local. 

Think about it.

No matter what your views are on the politics of housing, each local community should be making its own choices and within a context where we can vote out people we don’t agree with.

The petition was filed on August 25th and is currently under a 30-day public commenting period. After the commenting period closes, the Attorney General has approximately six weeks to issue a title and summary. After that, a fiscal analysis will be conducted.

Once signature gathering commences, 1 million signatures are required within 180 days. If enough are gathered, the measure will be on the ballot.

With 7.5 million single family home owners in California facing a big hit to their property values and lifestyle, I hope we can get at least a million signatures.

This is truly a grassroots effort and it will be up against huge developer money. Please help me get the word out about the initiative and please join me in making a modest donation to support the effort. Think of it as a down payment on keeping your home value.

Oh and don’t miss this fascinating article describing the fallacies behind the SB9 & SB10 narrative. I found this article amusing, too. 

Tracy is active in a number of local community organizations including the Neighborhood Council PLUC, Kentwood Home Guardians and Emerson Ave Community Garden Club. The views expressed in this post are Tracy’s alone, and should not be construed in any way as an opinion of any of these groups.

Are Community Plans Obsolete?

This article first appeared on Living90045.com and is excerpted here.

Our Community Plan is in process for a long overdue update, but will it matter?

What Is A City Plan?

The City of Los Angeles is a massive area and to help manage land use policy decisions, the city is divided into 35 community plan areas.

Each Community Plan establishes goals and policies to guide land use and development within each plan area. Plan maps identify where uses such as jobs, housing and open space will be located. Continue reading “Are Community Plans Obsolete?”

Know the Basics of Putting Your Professional Self Online

See on Scoop.itDigital Rep Building

“Social media is not just for socializing. When handled correctly, you can use it to enhance your personal brand, establish your expertise, or demonstrate your digital fluency. Commit to using social media for professional reasons and be proactive about managing your activity and image. Consider what potential employers or colleagues will see — you don’t want them to discover only pictures of you and your dog, or worse. Make sure at a minimum you have a LinkedIn account with a completed profile. Try….”

See on hbr.org

Autobiography In Five Short Chapters

Warning!  Enlightenment ahead!

I first read the poem below about 15 years ago. At that time, I thought it was “amusing.” I bumped into it the other day and after 15 years of more falling down than I care to remember, I have a deeper appreciation for the piece.

The poem was written by Portia Nelson in the late 70’s and has been adopted by many motivational speakers and addiction recovery programs over the years.

I like to think I’ve gotten to Chapter 5, but more likely it’s Chapter 4. Alas, if I was already writing my ending, what would I do with the next 50 years of my life?

A big shout out and thank you to my friend Chellie Campbell for introducing me to this piece 15 years ago.

Chapter 1

I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost … I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

Chapter 2

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in the same place.
But it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

Chapter 3

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in … it’s a habit.
My eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.

Chapter 4

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

Chapter 5

I walk down another street.

Social Media Time Management

This article was originally written in November 2009 for Plugged In Lawyer, a blog about social media for lawyers.


Chris Brogan wrote a brilliant post today called How Much Time Should I Spend On Social Media?

Why brilliant?  Because his take is fresh and out of the box.

Instead of telling you that you need to spend X hours on this piece and Y hours on that piece, he gives you a simple formula like this:

  1. 1/4 of your available time should be spent listening
  2. 1/2 of your available time should be spent commenting/communicating/engaging
  3. 1/4 of your available time should be spent creating original content

You’re the only one who knows how many hours you have in a day to devote to your online marketing strategy and it doesn’t matter who is doing the telling, you’re not going to find four hours in your day that don’t exist, just because some guru told you four hours is the magic amount of time to devote to your social media efforts.

Other than the fact that he doesn’t dictate some magic number of hours per day to you, I also think Chris’ formula for how you divide up your time is right on the money.

Listening To Your Network

To start, you can’t authentically engage and provide value to your network, if you don’t know what is being said out there in your network.  This is where the listening aspect come in.  You have to listen to figure out where you can add value.  Once you understand the context within which your network is operating, you can safely proceed to sharing your opinion and adding value to your community.

Engaging With Your Network

At first glance, it might seem a little out of whack to spend half your total time engaging, but I think the point that Chris is making is that Twitter and Facebook have become a huge part of the social networking landscape and both of these platforms are more about sharing information than about pushing your own content.

You can’t share, however, without researching and reading materials to share. By the time you factor in reading the news in your space and discovering other nuggets to share, the engagement segment of the formula really does take the lion’s share of your available social media time.

And I agree that it’s a good use of your precious time to share lots of soundbites on Twitter and Facebook, using other people’s information. You can write a great blog post, but at the end of the day, it’s just one piece of information with your name on it.  Leverage other people’s information and share many soundbites during the commenting/communicating/engaging portion of your time.  Remember OPM?  Leverage, baby!

Creating Original Content For Your Network

Content creation can take a chunk of time — or not.  Great pillar content for a blog or a new white paper requires research and drafting and editing, but who says you need pillar content?  While I personally happen to think that a little pillar content is good for demonstrating expertise, you can probably also demonstrate expertise by banging out short blog posts commenting on events and other people’s material.

No matter what your opinion is on pillar content, it is good to be reminded that blog posts are just one part of a bigger formula.  Blog accordingly.

Take Aways

Finding success with this new thing we call “social networking” requires more than broadcasting your expertise in a one-way blog post.  True, authentic success in social networking requires you to engage in what is going on, and engaging is about community and the back and forth of multi-party dialoguing — the cocktail party.

Want more evidence that engagement is where it’s at on the web?  Check out An Insider’s Secret To Twitter Success.

Do yourself a favor and put a note on the wall next to your computer with Chris Brogan’s formula.  If you stick to its rough proportions, you’ll be hitting all your engagement bases.  To your unlimited social networking success!

Wrapping Your Lawyer Brain Around Blogging

This article was originally written in September 2009 for Plugged In Lawyer, a blog about social media for lawyers.


Having a hard time wrapping your lawyer brain around the idea of blogging?  I ran into a very lawyerly white paper called Blogging For Laywers, complete with footnotes!

Back in the day, I wrote long briefs and footnotes were one of my particular talents.  My brain doesn’t think in footnotes anymore.  My brain thinks in links these days.  Nevertheless, I still recognize beautiful footnotes when I see them, and this article struck me as a nice bridge for lawyers who don’t yet think in links.

While you’re at it, check out the author’s blog at Delaware Litigation.  He writes a beautiful, classic lawyerly blog on the topic of what else?  Delaware Litigation, of course.  Not a topic that I personally could write passionately about day after day, but Francis does a beautiful job and has been recognized for his efforts by LexisNexis.