All About SB 9

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On Thursday, September 16, Governor Newsom signed a number of C.A.R.-supported housing bills, including SB 9 (Atkins), SB 10 (Wiener), and AB 1174 (Grayson), which will help tackle the state’s housing supply crisis. SB 9 will allow for homes that meet the specific requirements of the bill to build duplexes and for owner occupant owners to split their lots and build additional units.

What does SB 9 require?

This law requires that a city or county ministerially approve without discretionary review or a hearing either or both of the following in urban areas as defined, (subject to a number of exceptions and conditions):

  • A housing development of no more than two units in a single-family zone (duplex*).
  • The subdivision of an owner occupied parcel zoned for residential use, into two approximately equal parcels (“lot split”) as long as neither parcel is less than 1200 square feet and the owner agrees to owner occupy one of the units for three years.

* The use of the term duplex for two units does not mean or imply that the two units must be connected.

What additional rules apply to lot splits?
All of the aforementioned rules apply equally the process of ministerial approval for both duplexes and lot splits (unless otherwise indicated). However, a number of rules apply only to lot splits. These are as follows:

  • Lot splits must be approximately equal. The parcel map subdivides an existing parcel to create no more than two new parcels of approximately equal size, provided that one parcel shall not be smaller than 40% of the lot area of the original parcel.
  • At least 1200 square feet. Both newly created parcels are at least 1,200 square feet, unless the city or county adopts a small minimum lot size by ordinance.
  • Tenant protections and rent restrictions. The parcel does not contain rent-restricted housing, housing where an owner has exercised their rights under the Ellis Act within the past 15 years or has been occupied by tenants in the past three years.
  • No prior lot split. The parcel has not been established through prior exercise of an urban lot split.
  • No prior split of adjacent parcel. Neither the owner of the parcel, or any person acting in concert with the owner, has previously subdivided an adjacent parcel using an urban lot split.
  • Lot splits must comply with the Subdivision Map Act. Requires a city or county to approve a lot split only if it conforms to all applicable objective requirements of the Subdivision Map Act except as otherwise expressly provided in this bill.
  • No right-of-way required. Prohibits a city or county from imposing regulations that require dedicated rights-of-way or the construction of offsite improvements for the parcels being created, as a condition of approval.
  • No requirement of correcting violations. Prohibits a city or county from requiring, as a condition for ministerial approval of a lot split, the correction of nonconforming zoning conditions.
  • Affidavit of owner occupancy. Requires a local government to require an applicant for an urban lot split to sign an affidavit stating that the applicant intends to occupy one of the housing units as their principal residence for a minimum of three years from the date of the approval of lot split, unless the applicant is a community land trust, as defined, or a qualified nonprofit corporation. No additional owner occupancy standards may be imposed.
  • What rules can a city or county adopt as part of their own local standard in approving or denying lot splits under SB 9?

Please visit C.A.R.’s Legal Q&A for more information on SB 9: