On September 16, 2021, Governor Gavin Newsom signed several new key housing bills, all of which take effect January 1, 2022, to increase the supply of new housing in California and address the state’s ongoing housing supply crisis.  In so doing, the Governor issued a statement explaining that the housing crisis “is undermining the California Dream for families across the state, and threatens our long-term growth and prosperity.  Making a meaningful impact on this crisis will take bold investments, strong collaboration across sectors and political courage from our leaders and communities to do the right thing and build housing for all.”

Senate Bill 8 (Skinner)—SB 8 extends the sunset date of Senate Bill 330 by five years, from December 31, 2025 to December 31, 2030.  SB 8 also provides that a “housing development project” includes projects that involve no discretionary approvals, projects that involve both discretionary and nondiscretionary approvals, and projects that include a proposal to construct a single dwelling unit.  In addition, SB 8 makes a number of helpful clarifications to existing law, including the exception to the prohibition on affected cities and counties from changing a land use designation or zoning ordinance to a less intensive use if the city or county concurrently changes the development standards, policies, and conditions applicable to other parcels within the jurisdiction to ensure that there is no net loss in residential capacity.  SB 8 clarifies this provision by defining “concurrently” to mean that the action is approved at the same meeting of the legislative body or, if the action that would result in a net loss of residential capacity is requested by an applicant for a housing development project, within 180 days.

Senate Bill 9 (Atkins)—SB 9 allows the partial or full tear down of an existing single-family home to create two separate residential units that need not be attached and may be sold separately.  Cities and counties will be required to ministerially approve such a project.  Because SB 9 will operate in conjunction with existing laws permitting the construction of accessory dwelling units and junior accessory dwelling units, it will allow even more units to be built on the parcel through ministerial processes.  Local ordinances that would physically preclude construction of the two units cannot be enforced.  Any local parking requirements must be limited to requiring only one “parking space” per residential unit, but any such parking requirements do not apply if the project is located within one-half mile of public transit or if there is a car share vehicle located within one block of the project.

SB 9 also allows “urban lot splits” in residential zones to create two equal parcels of a minimum of 1,200 square feet.  It further prohibits the application of local requirements that would physically preclude the construction of two units to be built on each split lot, but the applicant must sign an affidavit stating that they intend to occupy one of the housing units as their principal residence for a minimum of 3 years from the date of the approval of the lot split.  The parcel split may operate in conjunction with SB 9’s allowance for two separate residential units on a single parcel, thus allowing four units to ultimately be constructed on a parcel where only one single-family home may have existed (and even more units if ADUs and JADUs are also constructed on the newly subdivided parcels).

Senate Bill 9 does not apply to single-family parcels in historic districts, fire hazard zones, and rural areas.

And Senate Bill 10 (Wiener)—SB 10 allows cities and counties to adopt an ordinance to allow up to 10 dwelling units on any parcel if the parcel is located within a transit-rich area or urban infill site.  Under SB 10, adoption of such an ordinance would not be subject to the California Environmental Quality Act but there is no such exemption for any housing development project processed under the bill.  SB 10 provides that any city or county that approves a zoning ordinance pursuant to the bill shall not subsequently reduce the density of any parcel subject to the ordinance.  In addition, SB 10 allows up to two ADUs or JADUs on each parcel, and these do not count toward the 10-unit limit.

While SB 8 makes critically important refinements to SB 330 to extend the life of that law and close perceived loopholes some local agencies have attempted to exploit, SB 9 and 10 are more modest measures whose profile has been boosted by hyperbolic statements from some in the media and various local agencies that prefer the status quo.


Questions? Please contact Bryan W. Wenter, AICP of Miller Starr Regalia.

For more than 50 years, Miller Starr Regalia has served as one of California’s leading real estate law firms. Miller Starr Regalia has expertise in all types of real property matters, including full-service litigation and dispute resolution, transactions, acquisitions, dispositions, leasing, financing, common interest development, construction, management, eminent domain and inverse condemnation, exactions, title insurance, environmental law, and land use. Miller Starr Regalia attorneys also write Miller & Starr, California Real Estate 4th, a 12-volume treatise on California real estate law. “The Book” is the most widely used and judicially recognized real estate treatise in California and is cited by practicing attorneys and courts throughout the state. For more information, visit www.msrlegal.com.