top of page

Senate Bill 9 may turn your one house into four houses

Senate Bill 9 aims to address California's housing crisis by allowing single family home owners to divide their residential lot without discretionary hearings from local governments.


Illustrated by Amy Zhao
By Benjamin Qiao and Emma Lin

28 January 2021

 

Summary


Purpose: This bill is part of a group of bills (SB 8, 9, and 10) with the purpose of addressing the statewide housing crisis.


Implementation: Nearly two-thirds of all residences in California are single-family homes, and up to three-quarters of developable land in the state is zoned only for single family housing. The bill allows a property owner to split a single-family lot into 2 lots and place up to 2 units on each individual lot. In other words, places that were limited to single-family houses can be altered to fit 4 units. It also doesn’t allow local agencies to impose certain restrictions in approving the split of a lot or the construction of units, and prohibits the demolition of existing affordable housing, rent-controlled housing, or housing leased to a tenant in the last 3 years. SB 9 essentially expedites the process of expanding the California housing market by giving homeowners the power to build homes.


Impact: Nearly 800,000 housing units could be developed by adding units to existing single-family homes; furthermore, in three counties alone, 600,000 units could be developed by building houses on small lots near existing residential areas. Duplexes, triplexes, and quadplexes are cheaper than single-family homes, providing cheaper housing options. They can also cut a block’s carbon emission by 20%.


Opposition: Opponents of this bill believe it undermines the ability of local governments to responsibly plan for the types of housing communities need, and circumvents the local government review process. The League of California Cities states that “SB 9 as currently drafted will not spur much needed housing construction in a manner that supports local flexibility, decision making, and community input. State-driven ministerial or by-right housing approval processes fail to recognize the extensive public engagement associated with developing and adopting zoning ordinances and housing elements that are certified by the [HCD]”.


Fremont Position: Opposed until amended in the following ways...

  1. A property owner is limited to constructing two residential units, and not two residential units AND additional accessory dwelling units

  2. Housing developers are required to acquire a building permit.

  3. Local governments are required adequate access for public safety vehicle equipment, developers are prohibited from using SB 9 in high fire hazard zones.

  4. Cities are allowed to determine a range of lot sizes suitable for development projects.

  5. Assurance is provided that the California Department of Housing and Community Development gives Regional Housing Needs Allocation credit for production.

  6. Local governments are allowed to take into account loca conditions while approving or denying housing project applications.

  7. Local governments are continually allowed to determine parking standards.

  8. Large-scale investors and builders are ensured to not exploit SB 9 provisions.

SB 9 Status: Signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom on September 16, 2021. The bill will be effective on January 1, 2022.

 

Details

This bill would require that a proposed housing development containing no more than 2 residential units within a single-family residential zone be considered ministerially (without discretionary review or hearing) if the proposed housing development meets certain requirements. Requirements included but not limited to:

  1. The proposed housing development wouldn’t require demolition/alteration of housing that is subject to a recorded covenant, ordinance, or law that restricts rents to levels affordable for people and families of moderate, low, or very low income.

  2. The proposed housing development doesn’t allow for demolition of more than 25% of the existing structure walls, except as provided.

  3. The development isn’t located in a historic district, isn’t included on the State Historic Resources Inventory, or isn’t located within a site that is legally designated as a city/county landmark or historic property or district.

This bill would set what a local agency can/cannot require in approving the construction of 2 residential units:

  1. Authorizing a local agency to impose objective zoning standards, objective subdivision standards, and objective design standards, unless those standards would have the effect of physically precluding the construction of 2 units on either of the resulting parcels or physically preventing either of the 2 units from being at least 800 square feet in floor area.

  2. Prohibiting the imposition of setback requirements under certain circumstances and setting maximum setback requirements under all other circumstances.

This bill would set what a local agency can/cannot require in approving an urban lot split:

  1. Authorizing a local agency to impose objective zoning standards, objective subdivision standards, and objective design standards, unless those standards would have the effect of physically precluding the construction of 2 units on either of the resulting parcels or physically preventing either of the 2 units from being at least 800 square feet in floor area.

  2. Prohibiting the imposition of setback requirements under certain circumstances and setting maximum setback requirements under all other circumstances.

The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement. This bill would provide that no reimbursement is required by this act for specified reasons.




111 views0 comments

Commenti


bottom of page