Texas State Rep Files Bill to Make Texas More Like California
Former Californians may be aware of the 2019 laws passed wherein the State of California thumbed its nose at city and county zoning ordinances and local elected officials, and authorized property owners to construct Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) or “granny flats” on their properties – regardless of whether they were only zoned for single-family residential. The laws went even further to streamline permitting and further restrict local government so these ADUs could be built. An explosion of building followed.
In Texas, on February 24, 2023, HB 2789 was filed by the long-time establishment incumbent State Representative Justin Holland, and on March 1, 2023, an identical companion bill SB 1412 was filed in the Senate by Senator Bryan Hughes, with the identical companion bill speeding the process of these bills potentially becoming law later this year.
With these bills, these two Texas legislators are now thumbing their noses at local elected officials who want to control housing density in their communities, and virtually make “single family zoning” a thing of the past.
Both bills have been referred to committees in the Texas House and Senate. If passed, “single-family zoning” will no longer mean anything in Texas! The HOUSE hearing will be Wednesday, March 29 - read to the end of this article to get details on how to testify against it in person, or electronically.
These bills RESTRICT the ability of local governments to prohibit Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU) on lots zoned for residential single-family or duplex homes. And guess what? If you have a lot that’s at least 10,000 sf (0.22 acres) they'll allow TWO (2) ADUs on a residential lot besides the primary home!
But wait – it gets worse
Cities will have to approve the permits in a “ministerial” fashion with no public hearing allowed, within 60 days of the completed application.
But what if cities don't approve permits within 60 days? They’re considered AUTOMATICALLY approved.
Cities will not be able to limit the square footage of the ADU, and if and ADU is less than 750 sf, cities will NOT be able to collect IMPACT FEES (what cities might assess a new development that costs the city money to provide sewer, water, police, fire, or other city services to residents).
Another Sneaky Provision
By the way, there's even another sneaky thing in there that is about PRIMARY dwellings, not ADUs - If this bill passes, a city cannot require owner occupancy of a primary residence.
Why does this matter? There’s a current trend where developers are building entire RENTAL ONLY housing communities (yes, even in Texas). Not all communities are onboard with these developments, but no matter! If you don’t want this in your city – TOO BAD. A city would have no way to stop it.
What about Water Supply?
What about water issues? In the community where I live, we are currently working with a rural water supplier whose community has outgrown their ability to supply the water. They have been in violation for the last 3 years by not providing adequate supply – but unfortunately, under Texas laws, once a water supplier is given a CCN, they have the exclusive right to provide water service in their area – with NO ABILITY TO SAY NO. But they keep issuing anyway...but that's for another story.
Of course, they are also required to provide “continuous and adequate service” but if the regulatory agencies find them in violation and do nothing to enforce the law, the water users (homeowners/customers) are in a terrible situation. In our community, our water supply has not increased since 2009- and our water user base has nearly doubled – and there is no way to stop them adding additional connections. And HB 2789 will only add more water connections to this hot mess!
ADUs – A Revenue Stream to Fight High Property Taxes?
Now imagine 100 of your friends and neighbors decide they want the extra income of an ADU (or two) on their property.
Let's be real - one way to fight high property taxes (that our legislature refuses to meaningfully address) is to create INCOME from your property. And hey, remember, if your lot is a quarter-acre or more, you could build more than one ADU.
If 100 of your neighbors decided to do this, what would that do to the traffic in your town? How about the water supply? What about our already overcrowded schools? Do you think you'd have adequate police and fire coverage? I know there's more to it than this, but take a minute to think about what just 100 additional living quarters (ADUs) would truly do to your immediate area.
HB 2789 doesn’t care – you would just be stuck with the new density in your community.
HOAs Not Prohibited from Banning ADUs – FOR NOW
As currently written, an HOA would still be able to restrict ADUs - but given the number of laws that passed last session that override HOA rules, it’s really not a stretch to think the legislature could prohibit HOAs from allowing ADUs as well. After all, it would just be a simple amendment.
Ironically, I ran in the 2022 Republican Primary against the guy who authored the House Bill. His campaign LOVED to point out how I moved to Texas from California. Yet here HE IS actively working to turn Texas into California, and here I AM trying to stop him!
Penalties for Violators
If a city or county violates this bill once it becomes law, the Texas Attorney General (yes, the AG) could enforce it. The penalty? Cities and counties who violated the law would not be able to raise their taxes above the “no new revenue” rate in the following tax year – regardless of the circumstances!
Say your city just built a new fire station, or a new city hall, with citizen approval, and they needed more tax revenue. SORRY! Violate this law and to heck with your City budget.
THIS BILL WOULD APPLY TO ALL OF TEXAS
It is outrageous, and takes local control away from the individuals who have voted for their local elected officials, served on their planning and zoning commissions, and decided how they want their communities to grow. It takes away local control and grants it to the State.
TAKE ACTION TO STOP THIS BAD BILL!
1. Let Representative Holland know how you feel about this bill. And if he's not your State Rep then contact both your State Rep and Senator and let them know that you oppose both HB 2789 and SB 1412. If you don't know who your representatives are, you can find them here: Who Represents Me? (texas.gov) and LET THEM KNOW how you feel about this.
2. REMINDER – if these get passed into law, it affects ALL OF TEXAS.
Share this article with your friends, family, and any groups or organizations all over the state. Have them contact their Reps and Senators, and let's shut this nonsense down.
3. TESTIFY IN OPPOSITION IN PERSON:UPDATE! This bill has been scheduled to be heard by the Land & Resource Management Committee in the House, on Wednesday, March 29, 2023! CLICK HERE for the link to the Committee hearing notice. I will be there to testify against it - and I can show you how to do the same if you are coming to Austin. Call me at 469-929-5409 and let me know you're coming. I will have talking points ready to help you testify, will show you how and where to register, etc. Any Texan can testify!
4. CAN'T COME TO AUSTIN? TESTIFY ELECTRONICALLY HERE: Click the link to the left and you'll get the page to register your comments electronically. Fill in your contact information, and scroll down to pick HB 2789 as the bill you'd like to register your comments against.
Note: House Committees allow electronic testimony - and Senate Bills do not. So if you are not planning to come in person to Austin, THIS IS YOUR ONLY OPPORTUNITY to register your opposition to this bill.
LAST BUT NOT LEAST
If you’re disgusted and mad enough at the guy who filed this bill and willing to help me replace him in the 2024 Primary, I’ll need your help. You don’t have to live in District 33 to support my campaign. Visit www.londonfortexas.org/donate and donate to help me replace him in 2024!