Last month, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed two bills into law that are aimed at providing more housing in some areas in a state where demand often exceeds supply – by as much as 3.5 million units according to some estimates.
Both laws, which will increase housing density in some areas, have their critics. However, Senate Bill (SB) 9 has been the more controversial of the two. (The other allows more density of housing near mass transit hubs.)
What does SB 9 do?
Under the new law, which takes effect Jan. 1, 2022, lots in some areas that are zoned for single standalone homes can have up to four units of housing. There are some limits, though. For example, current tenants cannot be required to move, and the owner must continue to reside on the property for at least three years.
Gov. Newsom and those in favor of the law tout it as a step toward making more affordable housing available for Californians and decreasing the racial wealth gap in the state. However, a recent study by the University of California Berkeley found that it won’t affect most single-family-zoned lots in the state.
Cities speak out about the loss of local authority
Not surprisingly, a number of cities as well as the League of California Cities have objected to the authority the law takes away from them. The League’s executive director said that it “undermines the ability of local governments to responsibly plan for the types of housing that communities need, circumvents the local government review process, and silences community voices.” She also points out that although proponents of the law talk about it creating more affordable housing, it says nothing about pricing limits for any new units created.
Because of pressure from city governments, provisions were added to SB 9 to allow them to prevent construction if it would endanger public health or safety or if it’s being done simply to help speculators.
What does the new law mean for you?
The new law will no doubt affect real estate investors, developers, builders and other stakeholders. Experienced guidance can help you prevent any legal issues on your projects.