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Cal Cities opposes unless amended legislation seeking to increase density in single-family zoned neighborhoods without respect to locally adopted housing plans

Cities are encouraged to submit letters to legislators as soon as possible

February 17, 2021
The League of California Cities Board of Directors voted during their meeting Friday to take an oppose unless amended position on SB 9 (Atkins), which would require a local government to ministerially approve a housing development containing two residential units in single-family residential zones. 
 
Additionally, this measure would require local governments to ministerially approve urban lot splits.
 
SB 9 would require local governments to:
  • Ministerially approve a housing development containing two residential units in single-family residential zones regardless of locally adopted and state certified housing plans.
  • Allow a developer to convert an existing single-family home into a duplex and then add an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) and a junior accessory dwelling unit (JADU) to the same parcel, resulting in a total of four units.
  • Ministerially approve a single-family lot split, creating two lots, and allowing the construction of one single-family home, one ADU, and one JADU on each lot for a total of six units on a parcel originally zoned for one single-family home. 
Requested amendments: 
  • Clarify that a property owner using SB 9 is limited to constructing two residential units, not two residential units and additional accessory dwelling units (ADUs) on the same parcel.
  • Require a housing developer to acquire a building permit within one year of a lot split, so that speculators do not sell lots and never build homes.
  • Allow local governments to require adequate access for police, fire, and other public safety vehicles and equipment.
  • Prohibit developers from using SB 9 in very high fire hazard severity zones.
  • Allow cities to determine a range of lot sizes suitable for SB 9 development projects.
  • Ensure the California Department of Housing and Community Development provides Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) credit for production of SB 9 units.
  • Allow local governments to take into account local conditions such as hillsides, lot dimensions, natural hazards, available infrastructure, etc. when approving or denying housing project applications.
  • Allow local governments to continue to determine parking standards.
  • Ensure large-scale investors and builders do not exploit SB 9 provisions.
Next Steps
 
Cal Cities issued an action alert last week asking member cities to weigh in on the measure. SB 9 will be heard by the Senate Committee on Housing in the coming weeks. At this time, the bill has not been set for a hearing date. Cal Cities is encouraging cities to send in letters as soon as possible.
 
A sample letter that member cities can use, as well as the Cal Cities’ oppose unless amended letter and the bill text itself can be found on the Cal Cities website at www.cacities.org/billsearch. Insert “SB 9” into the search function to access the materials.

The Cal Cities Board of Directors also adopted the Housing, Community, and Economic Development Policy Committee's recommendation to oppose SB 55 (Stern), which would prohibit the creation or approval of a new commercial or residential development in a very high fire severity zone or a state responsibility area. 


 
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