The California state legislature has recently advanced a bill, SB 9, which would allow all single-family lots across the state to be expanded to include up to four units on a single lot. The move comes with the state’s housing crisis in full swing, and many see it as one of the only options to remedy an overburdened urban housing situation rife with shortages and inadequate affordable housing.
The move comes on the coattails of similar bills passed in Oregon, Washington, and Minnesota in recent years. It follows Sacramento’s zoning reform bill, passed in January, which also allows for the upzoning of single-unit lots to four-unit lots.
Debate surrounding the bill largely focuses on whether or not it will actually lead to affordable housing, and also how it will impact the mostly-suburban, mostly-affluent communities in which it is set to be implemented.
Those opposing the bill say that there will be no government oversight necessary to guarantee that this new housing would be affordable, as the development will be done privately, with few incentives in place. Opponents also fear the destruction of the character of these neighborhoods, and view the bill as a power grab aimed at taking away local land use authority. (prospect.org, 2021)
Those in favor see it as the only viable way to ease the housing crisis – mostly in urban areas – across the state. In addition, the bill also allows for homeowners to sell portions of their lots, effectively increasing opportunities for homeownership. (newyorktimes.com, 2021)
The bill will go back to the Senate for a final vote at the end of September.