You know when you’ve struck a nerve:  when the whining starts.   The wounded soul, in this case, is the Vice Mayor of Beverly Hills, John Mirisch, who cried and complained loudly about state legislation in this space recently.  The source of the Vice Mayor’s rant was Scott Wiener, freshman Democrat occupying the San Francisco senate seat just-previously held by tenant-advocate Mark Leno.

The cause of the attack is a newly minted piece of legislation – otherwise known as SB 827 – that, if you believe the Vice Mayor’s gripe, strips local governments of their much-cherished power to say yes or no to new housing.  “Local control” is what they’ve been calling it in local-jurisdiction quarters and for decades council members and supervisors have used it effectively as a shield against efforts by the state Legislature to promote its kind of land-use.

Granted, the Legislature’s overreach in this area of law has been routinely excessive.  It can be argued that this all began when legislator and soon-to-be San Diego mayor and U.S. Senator and California governor Pete Wilson saw the need back in the late ‘60’s to challenge the police powers of local government.  Wilson, a Republican, passed legislation then convinced Democrat Governor Pat Brown to sign into law a new state regime that set housing goals for locals.  At the time of its passing, Vice Mayor Mirisch was probably not even a glint in his father’s eye so, to be fair, he was ill-suited to object to the new law.

Since its enactment, Assembly Member Wilson’s state housing element law has been a failure.  Within the last 50 years of the “state oversight” the law delivered, the housing problem in California has only gotten worse – and the vehemence with which local housing land-uses gets denied is evermore furious.

But, I was surprised by how much energy and hysteria Mirisch devoted to tearing down a fairly reasonable bill like SB 827.  Considering the state’s dismal track record for affirmatively promoting new development, he should have expected a bill like this one coming from a housing-obsessed Legislature.  In fact, SB 827 – which actually failed passage in its first policy committee – is relatively benign compared to some of the housing laws that have been enacted before this year.

Where was the wailing from Beverly Hills when the Legislature proposed a bill to require vegetable gardens in new and existing apartment complexes?  Or, when several of the state’s arcane water measures became law?  Or, when a bill that trumped local sign ordinances was enacted?  Or, when landlords were required to allow clothes lines to be strung up anywhere in an apartment complex?  Or, when the state literally commandeered land-use authority in the name of global warming?  How about current legislation that moves development off of cheaper liquefied natural gas and onto the state’s already taxed electrical grid?  Or, one which requires new housing to be of zero emissions by the year 2030, a green house gas (GHG) reduction goal that adds significantly to the cost of housing?  Where was Mirisch and his City on these and many more bad “local” bills?

Or, where has the Vice Mayor been on efforts to undo the anti-housing biases of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)?   Or, where was he when homebuilders were fighting against state trial lawyers for high-density development and the passage of affirmative construction-defect relief?  Or, when those same homebuilders argued for more downtown housing through a brownfields clean-up bill?

Nowhere to be found, is the answer.  Instead of backing the interest of building more housing – or opposing measures hostile to it – Mirisch, from the comfort of his position on the Beverly Hills city council and perched safely behind the City’s renown policies against development, has resorted to name-calling and finger-pointing while boasting support for statewide rent control, repeal of the court-ordered Ellis Act and championing other market-wrecking legislation.

Yes, it appears Mirisch speaks up only when it’s convenient or someone has tweaked him – like Scott Wiener.

The Vice Mayor does occasionally stumble over a good thought or two – defending the law of supply and demand and asserting that businesses adding new employees to tight housing markets have some responsibility over high prices.  But, it isn’t long before his recent screed returns to editorializing about “insane” profit margins of job-creators and income inequality, as if the gardeners and low-wage service employees of Beverly Hills are invisible.

Mirisch also takes to task the rise of YIMBYs (yes in my back yard), a pro-housing movement and citizen response to the legendary, neighborhood-dominating and ever-growing NIMBYs (not in my back yard).  For decades, NIMBYs have defined housing policy in California so it’s no surprise in his rant that the Vice Mayor comes to their defense.  Ironically, it’s NIMBYs – and their brothers and sisters serving on city councils and in the state Legislature – who are most empowered by the true anti-housing shenanigans of Sacramento, such as those enumerated above.  One wonders, then, is this a faux fight that Mirisch is perpetuating?  And, who’s it really with?

To the NIMTOOs (not in my term of office) like Vice Mayor Mirisch, I have one simple comment, and a question:  “For years you’ve presided over a statewide housing crisis. Now, other than bitching about proposed solutions, what are you going to do about it?”