Saturday, October 16, 2021

What does the SB9 Housing Act mean for single-family zoning in your neighborhood

Governor Gavin News this week signed into law a pair of bills that effectively put an end to the single-family zoning restrictions that prevail in most neighborhoods across the state.

Senate Bills 9 and 10, effective January 1, 2022, will make it easier for Californians to create multiple housing units that have been reserved exclusively for single families for decades and allow cities to keep small apartment complexes close to public transit.

Although the laws represent two new approaches to overcoming the state’s housing crisis, experts say it is not possible to create the number of units needed to fully address the problem.

Here are the answers to some of the questions related to this new law.

What is Senate Bill 9?

Senate Bill 9 is the most controversial of the two new laws. This allows property owners to split a single-family into two lots and place two units in each, creating the possibility of four housing units with some features currently limited to single-family homes.

Under the new law, cities and counties across California will have to approve development proposals that meet certain sizes and design standards.

What is a warning?

If someone divides their property into two lots, each new lot must be at least 1,200 square feet in size under the new state law.

A proposed project or property split may not result in the demolition or replacement of affordable or rent-controlled housing or market-rate housing that a tenant has occupied in the past three years. For new developments under this Act, historic historic landmarks or properties located within a historic district are limited.

No unit created as a result of this Act may be used for short term rent. By law, they must be rented for more than 30 days.

Who can do it?

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Homeowners or landlords can apply to acquire their property through their local jurisdiction but only if they plan to live on the property.

Property owners must sign an affidavit stating that they will occupy one of their housing units as their primary residence for at least three years after dividing their property or adding additional units.

Does this law allow offices and new housing units on single family properties?

Any new unit under SB 9 should be used for residential purposes only.

Do cities and counties have to comply with this new law?

Under SB9, local government officials can only reject a development application if they find that the proposed project will have a “specific, adverse effect” on “public health and safety or the physical environment” and there are no viable and satisfactory mitigation options.

Will local rules apply for maximum square footage, building height and parking?

Proposals under this new law must comply with the standards of material zoning and design review established by local cities and counties.

Will this law address California’s housing shortage?

A recent study by the Terner Center for Housing Innovation at UC Berkeley estimated that only 5.4% of the state’s current single-family lot is likely to be developed under Senate Bill 9, making it possible to build 714,000 new housing units financially. It is part of a million.5 million new housing units.

What is Senate Bill 10?

Senate Bill 10 simplifies the process for local governments to re-zone public transportation or urban suburbs to allow for increased density up to 10 units per property in an apartment complex. The new law allows cities to bypass long review requirements under the California Environmental Quality Act so that costs are reduced and projects take time to be approved.

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