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The Implications of the new California law in San Jose, Los Gatos, San Mateo, Palo Alto and the surrounding Bay Area

  • R2 Zoning Lot Split
  • California repeals R1 Zoning
  • Support for SB 9, 10
  • Critics of SB 9, 10
  • By allowing duplexes on parcels in suburban neighborhoods, a new bill signed into law has eliminated single-family zoning in California, but the real-world impacts are projected to be modest.

    Governor Gavin Newsom signed two new housing reforms last week, Senate Bills 9 and 10, to make it easier to build more, denser housing in California. SB 9, which has the biggest projected impact on cities like Los Altos, permits lot splitting in single-family neighborhoods and duplex construction, including on each parcel on a split lot. SB 10 streamlines the approval process for multifamily housing of up to 10 units in urban areas near transit.

    Supporters hope the bills will fuel new construction in a stymied housing market and that denser, smaller homes will help broaden access to neighborhoods with high home prices, particularly those formerly restricted by stringent development standards subject to local control.

    The impact of the bills will include a potential for more single-family-home neighborhoods to see smaller houses on smaller lots with significantly smaller yards. How often those prospective new units will be built by current homeowners able to meet the substantial financial requirements of an eligible project remains an open question. An owner occupancy requirement written into the bill – aimed to prevent developers from buying parcels to split and redevelop – drew skepticism from critics like Los Altos Hills resident, Barry Smith. He noted that only “intent to occupy” is required, a relatively toothless measure that will be difficult or impossible to enforce.

    A landslide of new development is not anticipated by those studying the bills’ likely impacts. UC Berkeley’s Terner Center for Housing Innovation estimated that across the state, approximately 700,000 potential new housing units might become “market feasible” under the rules change. The study found that for the majority of eligible parcels, “the most financially viable outcome is not to pursue any development whatsoever,” with the most notable anticipated impact being allowance for more units in a prospective redevelopment. Subdividing an existing house might prove more economically practical than larger scope splits and new builds.

    Los Altos resident, Sue Russell, a housing advocate who has been following the progress of the bill, said the League of Women Voters, which endorsed SB 9, was likely to schedule an information session in partnership with Los Altos city staff to help residents make sense of how the rule change will work in practice when it goes into effect next year.

    Supporters of SB 9 frame the move to state oversight as a long overdue mitigation of local policies that were used over the last century to advance anti-development policies with racist and classicist impact on local residents.

    Critics of the housing bills, who feel they removed valuable local ability to self-determine what gets built in a neighborhood, are mustering support for an upcoming ballot measure, “Californians for Community Planning,” which would amend the state constitution to return local control to land-use decisions such as zoning.

    SB9 & 10 brings hope to California's housing crisis

  • Eliminating Single Family Zoning with SB9
  • New Process for Approving Multifamily Housing Projects with SB10
  • Challenges under the California Environmental Quality Act
  • Maximizing a return with SB9 and SB10
  • With single family zoning out of the way, building homes in California just got easier. Whether or not you are a proponent of SB 9 or 10, you cannot deny the new bills aim to address the housing shortage. Does this mean builders, individual homeowners, and investors will take advantage? Does this incentivize home building enough to get California out of this housing crises, or at least push us in that direction? Critics say no, while supporters say yes, but only time will tell, and everyone agrees that it's not going to happen overnight. Those that choose to take advantage and test the market will no longer have to deal with single family zoning, making the permit process easier. For more information about single family zoning, Click Here

    SB 10 has the potential to ease residential building as wellFor the 1st time since the 70's, developers will no longer have to overcome challenges from the California Environmental Quality Act(CEQA). Combine this with the local requirements and building a multifamily housing project was often an administrative challenge. This has the potential to make a huge impact.

    Senate Bill 10, authorizes (but does not require) a local government to adopt a zoning ordinance that will allow up to 10 residential units on each parcel, if the property is in a transit rich area or an urban infill site, as defined. SB 10 also provides an express exemption from CEQA review for the adoption of the ordinance and an implicit exemption from CEQA review for the local agency’s approval of compliant projects with 10 or fewer residential units pursuant to such an ordinance.

    The critics will point out all of the things it can't do. Cure homelessness and solve the socio economic challenges that plague neighborhoods And of course there will be some negative impacts that come along with increasing the population in any neighborhood such as parking, resources, and crime, however we can't continue to ignore our housing crises. Supporters say more needs to be done. An increase in housing supply will create more affordable housing which is much needed. Will it solve all of our problems? Of course not, but it is a move in the right direction. For more information about SB10, Click Here:

    I think some bigger questions ar: will homeowners, investors, and home builders decide to build more homes? Is there enough incentive? ow long will it take to make a significant impact? It all starts with drawing up the plans and getting them approved! TS Civil Engineering Firm can provide the resources and expertise needed to make an informed decision. In addition to SB9 and 10 support, we provide many other services as well!