On September 6, 2021, Governor Newsom signed three new bills: SB 9 (Atkins), SB 10 (Wiener), and AB 1174 (Grayson), which aim to help tackle the state’s housing supply crisis and give more opportunities to investors to build new homes for California residents. You will find below a synopsis pertaining to these new legislations for informational purposes only.
1. Overview of SB 9 (Atkins), SB 10 (Wiener), and AB 1174 (Grayson)
SB 9 (Atkins) Subdivisions and Tentative Maps
Existing laws permit three units per parcel (i.e., single-family home, ADU + junior ADU) in a residential neighborhood. As a reminder, an ADU (Accessory Dwelling Unit) is a separate dwelling area that is on the same land as a detached house. Typically, homeowners will construct these homes to provide income opportunities. Beginning January 1, 2022, SB 9 and SB 10 establishes a streamlined approval process to allow homeowners to build new homes on what are now single-family properties .i.e.:
*Single family residential lots which meet the specified requirements of the bill can now be converted to two duplexes and,
*For owner occupants of a property who agree to reside in their property for three years, they will be allowed to split their lots (assuming requirements of the bill are met) and build up to two smaller second units,
SB 10 (Wiener) Planning and Zoning
SB 10 which also takes effect Jan. 1, 2022, empowers local governments to exempt projects, 10 units or less, from any additional California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) review if the parcel is located in a transit-rich area, jobs-rich area, or an urban infill site. It requires developers to follow all local objective design criteria, local impact fees, local height and setback limits, and local demolition standards. SB 10 specifically prohibits projects from accessing streamlined approvals if the project is located in a HOA, high fire severity zone, state or national historic district, or requires the demolition of rent-controlled units.
AB 1174 (Grayson) Development Application Modifications
This law will require local governments to consider the application for subsequent building permits based on the objective standards and building codes that were in effect when the original development application was submitted. Additionally, it will provide that a development or modification’s approval is valid for 3 years from the date of the final judgment upholding the development or modification’s original approval if litigation is filed challenging that approval.
In a nutshell, these bills will make it easier for Californians to build more than one housing unit on many properties that for decades have been reserved exclusively for single-family homes and will give cities greater flexibility to place small apartment complexes in neighborhoods near public transit.
2. SB 9: How does it work?
SB 9 is the most controversial of the three new laws. It allows property owners to split a single-family lot into two lots, add a second home to their lot or split their lot into two and place duplexes on each. The last option would create four housing units on a property currently limited to a single-family house.
Under SB 9, cities and counties across California will be required to approve development proposals that meet specified size and design standards. The law is designed to create additional housing while also preserving low-income, affordable units.
As a result, a proposed project under cannot result in the demolition or alteration of affordable or rent-controlled housing or market-rate housing that has been occupied by a tenant in the past three years. Properties listed as historic landmarks or those located within a historic district are off-limits for new development. Wetlands, farmland and properties at high risk of fire or flooding are also exempt.
If someone chooses to split their property in two, each new lot must be at least 1,200 square feet. Any unit created as a result of the law cannot be used for short-term rentals. They must be rented for a term longer than 30 days.
Homeowners or landlords can apply to up zone their properties through their local jurisdiction, but only if they plan to live on the property for a while. Property owners must sign an affidavit stating they will occupy one of the housing units as their primary residence for at least three years after splitting their property or adding additional units. Lastly, any new units created under SB 9 must only be used for residential purposes.
Under SB 9, local government officials may only deny a development application if they find that the proposed project would have a “specific, adverse impact” on “public health and safety or the physical environment” and there are no feasible and satisfactory mitigation options. Proposals under this law must adhere to objective zoning and design review standards established by local cities and counties. Developments must still follow local zoning rules such as those governing height and yard size requirements.
No parking is required for additional units if the property is within a half-mile of a major public transit stop. However, a local agency can require up to one parking space per unit if there are no frequent transit stops nearby.
Hope this helps. Should you have any questions, feel free to contact me.