The Los Angeles Times recently wrote a timely editorial about “Ending City Hall Corruption” in the city of Los Angeles. Written in response to the recent arrest of City Councilman Jose Huizar for taking payoffs from developers to get their projects approved, the Times stated that the city’s development review process “…just invites corruption.”

Their editorial was spot on, but if the Times thinks that Councilmember Huizar’s pay-to-play schemes were bad, what about what our state legislature is about to do in enacting a spate of state-mandated laws that would supplant LA’s local planning and development review procedures with new processes that would essentially be controlled by developers?

On July 13, 2020, California’s Senate and Assembly will return to session to act on a package of 9 top-down, one-size-fits-all housing bills that will snuff out the self-determination of local governments, cram high-density housing into established single-family neighborhoods, and bring about the over-gentrification and displacement of communities of color–all backed by the real estate development lobby and construction unions. 

If enacted, these bills will fundamentally change local planning, zoning, and development review procedures for every city and county in California, including right here in San Luis Obispo. If they pass, local efforts to reform the planning processes of any city would be akin to rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

Legislators like Scott Wiener, Nancy Skinner, Richard Bloom, Buffy Wicks and others are trying to turn our neighborhoods into their experimental playgrounds without addressing the acute need for truly affordable housing. Yet too few Californian’s are aware that this is happening, primarily due to the mass media’s apparent decision to look the other way.

With the legislature about take action on these bills, the LA Times would be wise to pay the same kind of attention to these bills and the corruption they will invite as it has to Huizar’s corruption.


Keith Gurnee is a former San Luis Obispo Councilmember, the Past President of the California Planning Roundtable, and a Member of the Board of Directors for Livable California, a non-profit organization with over 10,000 followers dedicated to fighting these bills, protecting the self-determination of local governments, and advocating for truly affordable housing.