It is no secret that California has a severe housing shortage, the lack of which is driving rent through the roof for Californians across the state.
Until recently, it was illegal to build housing in over 70% of the state. Thus, the housing "problem" has also been a zoning "problem"
Enter Senate Bill 9 (SB9), also called the California Housing Opportunity and More Efficiency Act (“HOME”). This “duplex bill” is part of a multi-part initiative to address California’s housing crisis.
SB9 provides a legal, streamlined process for homeowners to subdivide their urban single-family residential lot and/or build additional residential units on their property.
SB9 makes two important changes to state law:
- It allows homeowners in most areas around the state to divide their property into two lots, thereby increasing opportunities for homeownership in their neighborhood
- It allows two homes to be built on each of those lots, with the effect of legalizing fourplexes in areas that previously only allowed one home.
Additionally, SB9 alters the municipal review process.
Where the review process used to be discretionary (subjective, case-by-case), it is now subject to ministerial approval (objective, consistently applied). This change is intended to simplify and expedite the permitting process, making it easier and more accessible for homeowners to build additional housing on their property.
SB9 went into effect statewide on January 1, 2022 and all California cities must comply. Local governments are allowed to impose their own objective design standards and limitations, if they don’t directly conflict with the state law.
My favorite part of this bill is its potential to create community, stability, and multigenerational living opportunities.
People are healthier, happier and more successful when they live together in small communities. This type of living opens the door to the sharing of garden, pet, child and elder care, and provides a means to address individual isolation that can be a by-product of large single-family homes.
Per the SB9 fact sheet, one of the main goals of SB9 is to “provide more options for families to maintain and build intergenerational wealth, a currency we know is crucial to combating inequity and creating social mobility.”