Historic Bills Change CA Development Laws Part 3

Historic Bills Change CA Development Laws
Part 3

By: Alexandra M. Jack, Esq. and Meghan M. Dunnagan, Esq.

November 2, 2021

The previous two blogs have focused on describing the recently approved Senate Bill (SB) 9. However, there is another important Senate Bill that was approved along with SB 9. Senate Bill 10 added sb 9, sb 10, , which is discussed below. Additionally, this blog will outline a few of the major arguments made in support and opposition of the two (2) bills. In case you missed the previous blogs in this series, the first blog can be found here and the second blog can be found here.

SB 10 regulates zoning changes necessary to develop homes and split parcels. Like SB 9, this new bill applies to all counties and cities throughout California, including charter cities, and allows those agencies to adopt ordinances permitting up to 10 residential units per parcel. Such ordinances and related changes to a local general plan would not be subject to CEQA. Under the newly added Government Code § 65913.5, for a parcel to be rezoned under an SB 10 ordinance, it must be within a transit-rich area or urban infill site, and cannot be in a very high fire hazard severity zone. Once a parcel is rezoned under this bill, it cannot be later downzoned in a way that reduces the density of the parcel.

The passage of SB 9 and 10 has been described as a balancing act between property owners not wanting duplexes or multi-family buildings as neighbors, but also weighing the fact that many individuals are giving up on the possibility of ever becoming a homeowner in California due to increasing housing costs.3

Supporting Arguments for SB 9 and SB 10

  • More housing development projects will be approved and not financially burdened by the need to defend the adequacy of the project’s environmental review.
  • An increase in the supply of housing should lower purchase prices and allow more people to buy homes.
  • The author of SB 9 and SB 10, Democratic state Senator Scott Wiener of San Francisco, believes that today’s zoning limits allow things like gentrification, and has said that “[b]y building apartment buildings, even smaller ones, you are being more inclusive and allowing more kinds of people at different income levels, not just wealthy people.” 1

Opposing Arguments to SB 9 and SB 10

  • The state should focus on other needs, such as wildfires, the drought, and infrastructure.
  • The bills do not include strong enough language to commit developers to building affordable housing.
  • SB 10 undercuts the democratic process by allowing local governments to override certain voter-approved local zoning initiatives with 2/3rds majority.
  • The bills effectively mark the end of single-family residential zoning, and would allow for increases in local populations without much consideration of potential impacts to existing residents.

While these new bills have lovers and haters, they undeniably change the landscape for California housing development, and it will be interesting to watch these changes unfold over the next few months and years. Stay tuned for the last blog in this series which will discuss how the two (2) Senate Bills overlap with existing laws such as those regarding accessory dwelling units (ADUs).

The information presented in this Article is not to be taken as legal advice. Every person’s situation is different. If you are facing a legal issue of any kind, get competent legal advice in your State immediately so that you can determine your best options.

Source Notes
1 Lena Howland, Two bills in the California Senate are making housing advocates upset, ABC 10, July 12, 2021, https://www.abc10.com/article/news/local/california/bills-california-senate-making-housing-advocates-upset/103-d6ea3b11-ff40-4bd3-9884-1edde3a0fb56

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