The New Provisions For Multiple-Unit Housing In Single-Family Zones: The “End Of Single-Family Housing” Or Just Another Minimally Effective But Overcomplicated Effort To Address The Deficit Of Affordable Housing In California

Miller Starr Regalia
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On September 16, 2021, Governor Newsom signed two bills that take effect on January 1, 2022, and are intended to foster more intensive residential development in existing single-family zoned areas. One of these, Senate Bill 9, requires a local government to allow construction of at least two dwelling units on each lot in an otherwise single-family zone, and to permit subdivision of such lots into two separate saleable parcels as of right, with each process required to be ministerial in nature, which effectively exempts such two-unit construction projects and “urban lot splits” from environmental review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The other, 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 two bills together are intended to address the shortage of affordable housing in California, and for that reason, both declare that they address a matter of statewide concern, not local concern, and are applicable to all cities and counties, including charter cities and counties.

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