Thursday, July 29, 2021 / by Carol Glover
If you do not, I am not surprised. There has been very little press on these two Bills. However, there is a constant barrage of news about the lack of housing. There is more demand for home purchases and the building of new units simply has not and cannot catch up for a very long time. It is a thorny issue and the legislators in Sacramento have been at constant work to create solutions from a state level. In the last several years, two notable Statewide measures have been enacted: (1) Statewide Rent Control which controls landlords in Cities where there previously was no rent control, and (2) Accessory Dwelling Units (allowing up to 3 separate living quarters on a single-family home lot).
Proponents argue it was necessary for the state to take action because the housing crisis is too large and local municipalities were too slow or not moving at all towards assisting tenants in controlling spiraling rents and encouraging additional housing development. Opponents take the position that real estate is hyper-local, and blanket legislation from Sacramento cannot adequately address the nuisances of local real estate planning and zoning.
This is a hot topic that is “newsworthy” so there are many bills in play related to real estate… but we are going to address TWO that will be up for a vote when legislators are back in session on August 16th.
First, SB 9. This legislation would allow an owner of property in a single-family zoned area to do a “lot split” and create a legal duplex – by right (subject to limited exceptions including environmental).
Per the text of the Senate Bill:
“This bill, among other things, would require a proposed housing development containing no more than 2 residential units within a single-family residential one to be considered ministerially, without discretionary review or hearing…”
There is not space here to detail the requirements and exceptions in the proposed Bill, but it does mean that it is possible to split a lot and build two separate structures without holding public hearings and the subdivision would not be subject to current zoning and planning regulations. Subject to other restrictions, the basic right under the proposed statute to do a lot split in a single-family zoned area is the game-changer.
Also, this bill does not limit or remove the right, under existing State law, for a property owner to add an ADU or Junior ADU to each property. The bottom line is that it could be possible to have up to 6 dwelling units on a single lot if there was space for an ADU and a Junior ADU on each lot. What is woefully absent is any additional infrastructure requirements arising out of the increased demand on utilities, schools.
The proponents claim that opposition to this measure is an additional NIMBY(?) position and the demand for housing is so great that infill development is appropriate to increase supply. The opponents are concerned about overcrowding in single-family zoned communities and the impact of the State override on local jurisdictions to control local zoning and use.
Second, SB 10. This bill provides that ten (10) units can be built on a lot, regardless of zoning. Instead of by right, local municipalities can “opt-in” to upzone areas by invoking SB 10 where the land is in a “transit-rich” or “urban infill site.” If invoked, the local municipalities are statutorily authorized to essentially do an “end-run” around the City General Plan, Zoning, and the California Coastal Act (“CEQA”) as long as the parcel is in a “transit-rich” or is an “urban infill site” as defined in the proposed Bill.
Again, the Bill does not exclude ADU and Junior ADU State-mandated provisions. Some commentators have opined that up to fourteen (14) units, therefore, could be placed on a parcel.
The same pros and cons for SB 10 apply as to SB 9, except opponents argue SB 10 not only trumps local planning, zoning, and CEQA but also eviscerates the import and effect of citizen-approved ballot measures that become law in California once enacted. Citizen-approved ballot measures are a Constitutional right in California. [(Examples of local citizen-approved ballot measures are Redondo Beach’s Measure C (2017) and Measure DD (2008)]
The ultimate question: How to solve or at least ameliorate the housing crisis. Do these measures meet the goal?
As stated above, this is a very thorny issue and is a sensitive and hotly debated topic. In order to help you understand the positions and the proposed Bills, we have compiled the legislative information below along with several articles for and against these measures.
Be informed. Contact your legislators – via calls, texts, and email, and make your voice known!
THE VOTING RECOMMENCES ON OR AFTER AUGUST 16TH.
SB 9 LEGISLATIVE INFORMATION
SB 10 LEGISLATIVE INFORMATION
PROPONENTS OF SB 9 & SB 10
OPPOSITION TO SB 9 & 10
OVERVIEW OF SB 9 & SB 10 AND MULTIPLE OTHER HOUSING RELATED BILLS