A Consumer Advocacy Grant from the REALTOR® Party helped the South Bay Association of REALTORS®, the Pasadena-Foothills Association of REALTORS®, the Glendale Association of REALTORS®, the Greater LA Association of REALTORS®, the Greater Antelope Valley Association of REALTORS®, and the Southland Regional Association of REALTORS® educate consumers on two major new laws that boost homeowners’ rights, exemptions, and market feasibility.
In the state of California, the dearth of “Missing Middle” and all levels of housing amounts to roughly three million units – and counting. Addressing this dire need, the state legislature passed two major bills in 2021, both of which allow for significant increases of housing density, specifically on lots now zoned for single-family housing and in job-and-transit-rich locations. To counter a flood of misinformation launched by a widespread NIMBY opposition, six local REALTOR® associations within Los Angeles County are collaborating to get clear information to the public with a comprehensive ad campaign. A Consumer Advocacy Grant from the REALTOR® Party is helping them promote their REALTOR® values.
Julie Tomanpos, Government Affairs Director of the South Bay Association of REALTORS®, explains that California has the dubious distinction of originating single-family zoning, an exclusionary practice aligned with redlining that prevented people of color from moving in and building wealth. The state’s residential land is still largely zoned for single families. “In terms of fair housing,” states Tomanpos, this remains one of the things we need to fix. In terms of our growing housing crisis, re-thinking single-family zoning is part of the solution.”
The first piece of legislation, SB 9, allows owners of qualifying single-family lots to build a second unit or to split the lot and build up to two units on each one, which can be rented or sold, creating more attainable homeownership opportunities. A study out of UC Berkeley’s Turner Center for Housing has determined that while there are approximately 7.5M single-family lots in the state, realistically, the new law could produce 110K newly feasible units. This alone won’t solve the “Missing Middle” crisis, admits Tomanpos, but it will relieve some of the intense pressure on the housing industry, as will SB 10, which provides a framework for local governments to re-zone areas near transit hubs and businesses for high-density housing. “The new legislation creates affordable opportunities in desirable areas,” she says. “It is also worth noting that this is the first time our state has passed a market rate ownership housing supply bill, and that’s clearly a step in the right direction.”
Not everyone agrees, however. Tomanpos reports that numerous municipalities in Los Angeles County are telling residents “The state is coming down on you and taking away your control!” Local NIMBY groups are amplifying the fear. “In fact, the new legislation increases homeowners’ ability to exercise control over their property, not the other way around,” she points out. Banding together with five neighboring boards – Pasadena-Foothills Association of REALTORS®, Glendale Association of REALTORS®, Greater LA Association of REALTORS®, Greater Antelope Valley Association of REALTORS®, and Southland Regional Association of REALTORS® – the South Bay Association of REALTORS® secured a Consumer Advocacy Grant from the REALTOR® Party to help set the record straight. Their consumer ad campaign will educate consumers on the homeowners’ rights, exemptions, and market feasibility created by SB 9 and SB 10.
The campaign, called “Housing Reimagined,” will feature ongoing sponsored digital content in The Los Angeles Times, local papers of the Daily News Group, and local websites and social media pages. A dedicated landing page will contain links to consumer resources detailing what is now possible for homeowners in any municipality served by the associations. REALTORS® will be able to access talking points, shareable videos, and social media posts, as well as branded postcards and doorhangers. Following the initial campaign, the REALTOR® coalition plans to seek consumer polling from the REALTOR® Party, in hopes of finding positive data to support future campaigning.
“The effort is very pro-housing, and entirely supportive of property rights,” says Tomanpos. “We were so excited to read about the Consumer Advocacy Grant offered by the REALTOR® Party, because that’s exactly what we needed to counteact the knee-jerk negativity this legislation has prompted and reach our communities directly with facts and resources. I’d encourage all local associations to use this resource! The REALTOR® PARTY team is so easy to work with, gives a real hand to smaller and understaffed boards, and helps you to plan for success.”
To learn more about how local REALTOR® associations in Los Angeles County are promoting solutions to “Missing Middle’ housing, contact Julie Tomanpos, Government Affairs Director of the South Bay Association of REALTORS®, at Julie@Southbayaor.com or 714-326-3457.