What You Need to Know About Senate Bills 9 and 10
Recently, new Senate bills 9 and 10 were passed here in California in an effort to reform single-family zoning. Last month, California Gov. Gavin Newsom approved two historic measures to not only expand housing production in the state, but streamline the housing permitting process and increase density in an effort to create more inclusive neighborhoods closer to major employment hubs.
Newsom is also working to enable more housing production, address barriers to construction and hold local governments accountable for these efforts. These bills come as the state is still challenged by soaring home prices coupled with an ongoing homelessness issue and an affordable housing shortage.
A Look at the Bills
SB 9 provides additional tools to add much-needed new housing while easing California’s housing shortage. SB 10 sets up a more streamlined, voluntary process for cities to zone for multi-unit housing, so it’s faster and simpler to construct new housing.
The bills aren’t beloved by all, though, and a battle of sorts has ensued whereby 250 cities object to legislation that, they believe, will undermine local planning and control.
Governor Newsom counters that by saying: “The housing affordability crisis is undermining the California Dream for families across the state, and threatens our long-term growth and prosperity.”
The Governor also announced last month that the state will add $1.75 billion into a new California Housing Accelerator, designed to speed up the construction of 6,500 affordable multi-family units that previously stalled out due to lack of low-income housing tax credits and tax-exempt bonds.
It’s all part of a $22 billion allocation that the state is hoping will kick start new housing while easing homelessness at the same time, says the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Senate Bill 9, brought forth by San Diego Senate leader Toni Atkins, would mean that cities in the state can approve up to four housing units on what used to be zoned as single-family lots. The bill also proposed that municipalities must approve splitting single-family lots in order to be sold separately.
Senate Bill 10, sponsored by Senator Wiener, makes the process easier on cities that want to zone for smaller, lower-cost housing developments of up to 10 units in an effort to quell California’s housing crisis.
Key Points of Each Bill
- SB 9 (Senator Atkins) streamlines the process whereby a homeowner can sub-divide an existing single-family residential lot for duplex creation or new construction. Opponents of SB 9 say it will hit the average homeowner hardest, as many families do not have the resources needed to develop their lots with construction costs hovering at nearly $300 per square foot and rising. This paves the way, they say, for major developers and real estate investment trusts to be able to outbid California families who want to buy a home.
- SB 10 (Senator Wiener) establishes enabling legislation for jurisdictions that want to opt in and up-zone urbanized areas close to transit, allowing up to 10 units per parcel without any CEQA oversight. This bill is a follow-up to his previous legislative session bills that did not find the necessary support. Opponents of the bill say it weakens existing protections put in place for historic properties because it allows cities to bypass CEQA review during the redevelopment process, leading to the demolition and loss of important historic resources.
What Both Bills Do…
Both SB 9 and SB 10 are both designed to alleviate the affordable housing crisis by relaxing perceived land use and California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) barriers to A.) increase density and B.) streamline the production of multi-family housing development across the state.
The goal of the above bills is a noble one when taken from the point of view of solving the housing shortage in CA. But, on the other hand, detractors of the bills say properties could lose value if the neighborhoods they’re in become dotted with duplexes, all while creating heavier traffic, and introducing more smog and other environmental impacts.
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