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Everything You NEED To Know About SB9 In Los Angeles

Updated: Feb 15, 2023

Senate Bill 9 was signed by California’s governor, Gavin Newsom, on January 1, 2022. But on February 14, 2022, the mayor of Los Angeles - Eric Garcetti, the Director of Planning department -Vincent P. Bertoni, the General Manager of building and Safety- Osama Younan, and the General Manager of the Housing Department- Ann Sewill all signed off on the bill. SB9 is also known as the California Housing Opportunity and More Efficiency (HOME) Act. Essentially, the bill is being passed to help the California housing crisis, and also the homelessness crisis in Los Angeles. SB 9 has the practical effect of depriving local governments of major local authority over property development in single-family zoning areas.

SB9 provides a wonderful chance for individuals around California to create beautiful, affordable housing on their own properties. SB9 aims to address the affordable housing crisis by removing perceived land use and California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) restrictions in order to boost the density and simplify multi-family housing development all throughout the state. SB 9 makes it easier for a property owner to divide an existing single-family residential site to make room for a duplex or new ADUs or JADUs.

The biggest benefit of the bill would be a homeowner who owns 1 home, on a property that is zoned for only one home, being able to split the lot and now have 2 main homes. In the past, before SB9 was passed, homeowners could build 1 home with 1 ADU as well as 1 JADU. But, now that Mayor Garcetti passed this bill, homeowners can build 2 homes, 2 ADUs, and 2 JADUs on one lot. This will create thousands of more homes in the Los Angeles area, and even more all across California. With the passage of this bill, California becomes the second state in the US to ban single-family home only zoning in most areas. The first was Oregon, which passed its bill in 2019.

What are some of the water and power considerations for a home or ADU built on a split urban lot?

Answer: An Urban Lot Split does not require power or water supply, but it will be necessary when building new residences on a lot created by an Urban Lot Split. Customers may be responsible for all or part of the cost of equipment modifications, depending on the amount of increased load requested and the existing DWP infrastructure in the region. Different water and electricity service is not authorized on a single-family lot with more than one dwelling unit, but it is necessary for dwelling units that may be located on a separate lot due to a lot split using SB 9.

Any development or shift of use within an LADWP public utility easement, or within 10 feet of one, or anywhere within 10 feet of poles or equipment, must have LADWP approval. The applicant/customer may be needed to execute and record with the LA County Recorder's office prior to purchasing a new water service.

The option for an urban lot split also opens up new homeownership opportunities, particularly for those who have been priced out of the housing market due to rising prices. SB 9 allows some homeowners to live with elderly relatives or adult children, allowing them to live in a multigenerational house. For tenants, each additional unit of long-term rental property that comes on the market helps to reduce demand.

The majority of single-family zoning, which allows only one house per lot, is one of the most significant obstacles facing housing buildings. Single-family housing accounts for over 66 percent of all California homes and nearly 75 percent of all buildable land is zoned single-family. This significantly restricts the sorts of homes that can be built while also pushing the limits of population increase further and further away.

There are two options for homeowners who want to add another unit to their home, one would be the construction of two units on the same piece of property, this may entail dividing an existing home into two flats, and two would be splitting a single parcel into two independent parcels.

What Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) regulations must be met?

Answer: The LAFD Hydrants and Access Unit will analyze and approve proposals for single-family residential and two-unit developments. The inspection will check that standards such as street/fire lane access to within 150 feet of any residential unit, roof access (maximum height to top plate of 28 feet, suitable fire hydrants within 300 feet. Fire lanes and turnarounds, public/private fire hydrants, enhanced construction or sprinkler regulations, and so on are all possible needs.

An ADU is an accessory dwelling unit, which is a separate housing structure built on the same property as the main house or construction. A JADU is a Junior Accessory Dwelling Unit. JADUs are allowed to be created within the walls of a proposed or existing single-family residence and can not contain more than 500 square feet.

An example of how Senate Bill 9 benefits homeowners are Tom who just bought a new home. Tom buys this home in an R1 or OP1 zoning area, applies for SB9, and is approved. He can then build 1 more home on the lot, then proceed to build an ADU for each home as well as a JADU for each home. Leaving him with a home to live in, and 2 ADUs, 2 JADUs, and another home that he can rent out and jumpstart his path to financial freedom.

If two or more units are permitted on my property, am I eligible for SB 9?

Answer: No, SB 9 only applies to single-family residential zones. If the land already has a multifamily unit, you may be eligible to add multiple ADUs.

Not only do ADUs increase the value of your current home from $150,000 and up, but they are also an asset that will only rise in value over time. ADUs also create a way to collect monthly rent which you can put toward your current home mortgage.

SB9 is only available to properties in the R1 and OP1 zoning areas. Any of the following properties are not eligible to submit an application for Senate Bill 9:

1. Is located in a hazard zone, such as earthquake faults, flood zones, or conservation land.

2. Is located in a historic district or is a designated historic resource.

3. Contains an existing price-controlled unit, such as deed restriction and/or rent control.

4. Was removed from the Ellis Act within the past 15 years.

5. We will need to remove more than 25% of the existing structure walls.

Any rent-controlled, moderate, low, or very low-income housing cannot be altered or demolished as part of the proposed SB 9 projects. Any units occupied by a rental tenant within the last three years are also forbidden from being modified or demolished. SB 9 is designed to promote urban housing growth while also protecting vulnerable people and natural places. Property must be in an urban area and zoned for single-family use to be eligible. The property cannot be in a historic district, a floodplain, a fire hazard region, valuable agriculture, or other environmentally sensitive places.

Are coastal zone applicants eligible for SB9?

Answer: Nothing written in SB9 modifies or decreases the effectiveness of the California Coastal Act or the present Coastal Development Permit procedures in any way. According to the LAMC, public hearings will continue to be needed for any demolition, conversion, new building, or Urban Lot Split. Applicants will also need to apply for Coastal Development permits.

Are there any other factors to consider for SB 9 projects proposed on RSO properties that are occupied by tenants?

Answer: Tenants may be eligible for a rent reduction if a planned SB 9 project located on an RSO lot reduces their access to open space, parking, storage space, laundry facilities, living space, or other amenities. When a housing service given at the start of the tenancy is terminated, the RSO mandates a rent decrease based on the replacement cost of the service provided and written notification to the tenant.

Are SB 9 developments allowed in earthquake fault zones that have been delineated?

Answer: SB 9 projects are allowed in delineated earthquake fault zones as determined by the State Geologist as long as they comply with applicable seismic protection building code standards adopted by the California Building Standards Commission under the California Building Standards Law.

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