Wildfire Housing Bill Sparks Opposition in Anaheim

By Jack Bradley
Jack Bradley
Jack Bradley
Jack Bradley is a daily news reporter for The Epoch Times based in Southern California.
June 21, 2021 Updated: June 21, 2021

The Anaheim City Council on June 22 will consider opposing a bill that one councilor said would make many new housing projects “infeasible and unachievable.”

At the request of Councilman Trevor O’Neil, the council will discuss passing a resolution opposing Senate Bill 12 (SB 12).

“SB 12 would take away an element of local control and make it more difficult to approve and build housing in areas designated by a bureaucratic state agency as being in a high fire risk area, which would increase the cost of housing at a time when we need it least, given our RHNA allocation,” O’Neil said during a June 8 city council meeting.

The state bill was introduced by Sen. Mike McGuire (D-Healdsburg) last December to increase local government responsibilities by requiring cities and counties to create fire safety standards prior to permitting development in high fire risk areas.

“We must change the way we build in high fire risk zones, and if certain commonsense health and safety requirements can’t be met, we shouldn’t be building at all,” McGuire said in a Dec. 8, 2020 statement.

Anaheim was allocated 17,453 housing units as part of its 2021 to 2029 Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA). It must demonstrate that it has enough land designated and made available for residential development, but it’s not responsible for building the units.

SB 12 would require future RHNA plans—not including the current allocation—to allocate “a lower proportion of housing” in regions that have “very high fire risk” areas, according to the bill’s text.

The bill also “prohibits local governments from entering into development agreements, approving specified discretionary permits, or approving subdivision maps for projects within a very high fire risk area, unless specified findings based on substantial evidence in the record are made,” according to a city report.

The city’s proposed resolution says the bill gives the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research “control over the state’s decision-making process with regards to planning for future housing needs and further erode local control.”

SB 12 has been approved by the state Senate and is awaiting California State Assembly approval.

Jack Bradley
Jack Bradley
Jack Bradley is a daily news reporter for The Epoch Times based in Southern California.