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Opinion

Readers React: SB 50 could have reshaped L.A., and readers were having none of it

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Single-family homes dominate the historic Los Angeles neighborhood of Carthay Circle, which sits adjacent to high-rises along Wilshire Boulevard.
(Los Angeles Times)

Either SB 50 was the most unpopular piece of state legislation in years, or many L.A. Times letter writers live in tidy neighborhoods of historic single-family homes.

I say this because all but one of the nearly three dozen letters we received this week on SB 50, the bill in Sacramento to upend local zoning laws and allow for denser housing construction along transit corridors and in single-family neighborhoods, expressed opposition to the legislation, which was killed (at least for another year) in the Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday.

It’s been said that Los Angeles is a changing city, one where automobile dependence coexists with a rail transit boom and where density is increasing in an urban area created by sprawl. And yet, coverage in the L.A. Times on measures to speed along these transitions, whether it’s about so-called road diets or more recently SB 50, almost always prompts a backlash.

Los Angeles resident Richard Rothschild writes in favor of local decision-making on development:

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The unsuccessful backers of SB 50 did accomplish something: They solidified the notion that California’s short-term housing crisis won’t be solved by a bunch of bandwagon-jumping, insulated Sacramento politicians.

Local zoning control and intelligent city planning are important. They create real neighborhoods, responsible traffic and school district planning, intelligent building review and historic preservation.

Legislative bullying will never accomplish any of this.

Lesley O’Toole-Roque of Los Angeles extols her historic neighborhood:

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SB 50 would wipe out family life in Southern California as we know it, and Hollywood history too.

I live in Spaulding Square, one of L.A.’s historical preservation overlay zones. An attractive location for silent actors and directors at the Hollywood film industry’s outset, we were also home to Lucille Ball, and Walt Disney dined here weekly for years. Every Halloween hundreds of revelers flock to the house made famous by “A Nightmare on Elm Street.” Residents of surrounding neighborhoods flock to us daily too so they can briefly escape their concrete jungles.

Stars still call us home, but mostly we are ordinary people of every color, income bracket, sexuality and age. We also have a homeless shelter opening soon very close to our eastern boundary.

SB 50 feels like a very personal attack on Southern California and our history.

Glenn Zweifel of Mar Vista believes there isn’t truly a housing crisis:

I have always maintained that there is not necessarily a shortage of housing but an excess of people. Just because you want to live somewhere doesn’t mean you can, hence the escalating cost of housing in a particular area.

I emailed and called the offices of both my state representatives to voice my opposition to SB 50 and asked for their position. I felt the the elimination of the single-family zoning would be disastrous. Both offices indicated that they have no “public” opinion.

Really? How about a private opinion?

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