Government Watch / Politics

Gavin Newsom’s War on Single-Family Neighborhoods

AMAC Exclusive


An emboldened Governor Gavin Newsom, fresh off his double-digit victory in the Recall Election on September 14, has already embarked on a new crusade of big government overreach that is threatening to disrupt the lives of millions of Californians. This time, Newsom has set his sights on a staple of the American dream – owning a single-family home in the suburbs. On the same day voters chose to keep Newsom in office, he signed into law a series of bills that effectively eliminated single-family zoning in the state of California.

The several pieces of legislation together now allow up to four housing units on a single-family lot and make it easier for cities to “upzone” various parcels of land—including single-family lots—to build housing structures with as many as ten units.

Newsom and Democrats claim that the demand for affordable housing in California cannot be met if two-thirds of its residential land excludes multi-family housing, especially in areas where there are plentiful jobs and public transit (i.e. California’s coastal cities).

The legislation, according to the Newsom administration, will also allow homeowners—who were previously allowed to build up to three units on their property—to now build four and also give developers more flexibility in deciding the types of units they will build, including whether or not to split the lot and sell. They believe it will encourage the creation of duplexes, triplexes, and fourplex apartment buildings alongside single-family homes, which are today quite common in California cities.

Newsom also signed a bill intended to further speed up housing development by requiring developers to replace demolished rent-controlled or affordable housing units with new construction.

In short, the various bills shake up California’s housing crisis by essentially preventing local communities from allowing neighborhoods to be zoned exclusively for single-family homes and forcing them to accept multi-family zoning as a means to increase California’s housing supply.

Some of these measures might sound good in theory, but, as with most liberal utopian plans, there’s a problem: they are far from certain to lower prices, and they are likely to encourage more of a type of housing most existing homeowners in a neighborhood don’t want—namely, crowded, densely-packed, and urban rental dwellings built next door or just around the corner.

For many Americans, abolishing single-family zoning sounds absurd. After all, the single-family home has been central to the American Dream for generations. But for those who have been following the statements of radical Democrat lawmakers, Newsom’s moves will come as no surprise. The Left has long argued that single-family zoning is yet another example of “systemic racism,” alleging that it “excludes” minorities from certain neighborhoods. This requires, they say, an “equitable” readjustment through the increased use of multi-family housing.

The problem with this argument, however, is that over the last ten years most of those who have moved into the suburbs have been minorities. Far from a tool to impose de facto segregation, single-family zoning is emerging as one of the primary ways for minority populations, who have for decades been abandoned by the liberal politicians who represent urban centers, to escape failed cities and find a better quality of life in suburban or rural areas as part of a great melting pot of America. Moreover, abolishing single family zoning will necessarily mean a more urban America, which is exactly what many Americans of all backgrounds and colors are trying to escape today in the aftermath of the pandemic.  

Housing in California is already more difficult to build than elsewhere in the country because of red-tape and environmental regulations. In fact, environmental damage has been the other main argument utilized by those who oppose the expansion of the suburbs. Suburbs, they say, require people to own cars, which they then use to drive long distances everyday to get to work, increasing pollution. Urban residents, by contrast, are more likely to use mass transit, which produces less pollution.

But as Joel Kotkin, the presidential fellow in urban futures at Chapman University and executive director of the Urban Reform Institute has observed, this argument doesn’t make much sense in a post-COVID world, where record numbers of people are working from home, and therefore not engaging in the long commutes to work that environmental activists often cite as a source of pollution. “Huge numbers of office workers are now accustomed to working at home,” Kotkin observes. “This shift makes affordable suburban and exurban housing even more desirable. More people, including professionals, are already moving to exurban locations because they aren’t required to be physically in the office.” In fact, during the pandemic, emissions from car commuting dropped by 50% as workers worked from home. Kotkin also points out that in Southern California, which includes California’s biggest city (Los Angeles), the use of public transit has never increased beyond it 1985 peak.

Abolishing the single-family neighborhood is not going to solve the housing crisis in the once Golden State. Instead, California leaders would be better off building more single family neighborhoods that people clearly want to live in, while figuring out how to lower the insanely high regulatory costs of new construction.

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[…] to flee crime-ridden cities have found their hopes dashed by Democrat policies. Blue states like California are working to completely eradicate single-family neighborhoods. Even if working class families can […]

1 year ago

Most of you could not afford a house in my neighborhood. $1 million is about average for a very basic single-family house without a garage.

However, there are also a lot of multi-family units and apartment complexes around. If you wanted to live in one of those, you could much more likely afford to do so.

But it sounds like you don’t like the idea of single-family homes being commingled with apartment buildings. So if that’s your feeling, then you’ll just need to stay out of my neighborhood, you poors! Come back when you’ve worked hard enough to afford to live here!

And you’d sure as heck better not complain about housing prices, because that’s a trick straight out of Das Kapital.

Roger Davis
1 year ago

Since almost everyone in CA has at least one car per family, I can see all kinds of trouble with not enough parking in the single family neighborhoods. In Ventura, apartment buildings do not have enough parking spaces for the units being built – especially at night the streets near those apartments are filled with cars and not much space if you want to visit someone in those areas at night. Then in single family neighborhoods which idea Newsom is now destroying, more cars on the streets and not enough parking spaces there is a potential for arguments between neighbors and who knows what those disagreements will produce. Democrats are already responsible for more crimes in this country by cutting police forces etc., and not prosecuting criminals enough and letting them out of jail too often. They are using out tax monies to encourage illegal immigration but not doing much to help the homeless and mentally ill we already had.

Bob Gardner
1 year ago

It will interesting to see how the Hollywood Hippocrates and the ultra rich living in Beverly hills, Brentwood and other wealthy secured neighborhoods react to this, or will they get an exemption though bribes or political influence. One cab only hope that California secedes from the USA and other socialist run states follow.

1 year ago

If so many people are streaming out of California, why do they need this??!!

1 year ago

The recall was questionable…and for all of those in California that want to be taken care of by the government…they get what they deserve…Larry Elder tried to clean up California…but they are sheep-like welfare recipients…Moreover…I was born and live in Texas…went to the Healthcare clinic the other day…there at the counter was an irrational California person…screaming that he had medicare and demanded that he should be seen by a Dr…with no appointment…I have one thing to say, “Fellow…or…madame…you are in Texas now…don’t bring your welfare problems down here…we work for a living”…

Gerald Warner
1 year ago

I’ll accept the benefits Newsom may try to convince Californian’s of as soon as he starts condemning multi million dollar properties, including his own, and rezones them for the same use. Never going to happen to the elites, just the lower class peons.

1 year ago

Another commie Democrat idiot!

1 year ago

Really – all our lives we wanted our own home, family, and yard. This guy should have been recalled. He and his buddies are killing California with stupid legislation like this! I bet this bill comes with more gasoline taxes to discourage commuting!!

1 year ago

California deserves what they are getting, enough said.

1 year ago
Reply to  Janett

They do deserve this, but unfortunately these stupid people are leaving CA and moving to red states and bringing their cancer with them because Democrats are brainless and never learn. Democrats ruin everything they touch.

1 year ago

Prime example of the left pushing suburbs
into cities. Rural properties will be next. People in cities are easier to control than
independent critical thinkers in suburbs

1 year ago

Welcome to government housing projects utopia. Cheap housing for drug addicts, illegals, criminals mixed into nice suburbs, call it diversity and equality, as those nice expensive homes lose value, sell quick before you lose your equity. Good job Californians, you apparently wanted this.

1 year ago

Californians voted to keep the arrogant dictator, sadly, they will have to live with it. Even sadder, we all will suffer from it.

1 year ago

Something tells me we’ll never see Newsome’s 8 acre property in the suburbs covered with multiple family unit housing all crowded around his 12,000 square foot, $3+million mansion.

1 year ago

You get what you vote for!!!

1 year ago
Reply to  John


Alberta Kurgan
1 year ago

How much land is required for having a vineyard or just having the wide open spaces of the traditional landowner. Is the landowners home a single housing unit? If so, they can add/build the units they suggest so it would “level the playing field” for all. That’s plenty of land to assess. This would add pizazz to our leader who suggested such a thing,

1 year ago

As soon as he and the rest of the marxist elites live in high density housing I believe he has the courage of his convictions. High density means “lots of people”, lots of dumb(dense) people!

1 year ago

No wonder ppl are leaving that state hand over fist! It becomes more screwed up every day! Newsom the Numbskull!!

Gerald Warner
1 year ago
Reply to  Kelli

Yes people are leaving California indroves, but sadly they also bring their destructive liberal/Marxist politics with them. In time wherever they relocate will eventually turn into what they left behind (just like the illegals from every 3rd world country invading our borders).The more things change the more they stay the same.

Roger Davis
1 year ago
Reply to  Kelli

But my wife and I are retired and are older plus we have a son who is hospitalized in another CA city because of mental illness. He is doing better now but if he comes home where would we go. We and our parents were born in CA and we did not vote to allow Newsom to remain as governor. Was the recall vote like the one in Arizona? Supposedly CNN had the yes vote at one time over 200,000 and then it suddenly went much lower. Did you see that? As Edward said “High density means “lots of people”, lots of dumb(dense) people!”. One of the reasons (among many others) was the $1.2 million he gave to get people to get the jab. Just think of how that could have helped our current homeless people.

1 year ago

Ain’t that great… d ghettos are coming to the neighborhood near u. Fix the ghettos? Nah!

1 year ago

Who will get preferential treatment to get affordable high density housing …maybe illegals?

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