The State of California recently adopted Senate Bill 9 (SB 9), the California Home Act and More Efficiency (HOME), which mandates local jurisdictions to ministerially* approve up to two residential units and/or a two-lot subdivision in single-family residential zones, if specific objective criteria are met. SB 9 projects are exempt from discretionary review if the project is consistent with objective zoning, design standards, and subdivision standards.
Senate Bill 9 (SB 9), the California Home Act and More Efficiency, is effective as of January 1, 2022.
The bill allows the approval of the following:
Dwelling Unit – Up to two homes on an eligible single-family residential parcel (whether the proposal adds up to two new housing units or adds one new unit to one existing unit). These units must be a minimum of 800 square feet.
Lot Split – A one-time subdivision of an existing single-family residential parcel into two parcels, allowing up to four homes. Minimum lot size for the subdivided parcel is 1,200 square feet, and the newly divided parcels must be similar size with the smallest being at least 40% of the total lot.
*“Ministerial" means a project must be approved if it complies with objective standards, without any subjective judgment from planners. Ministerial projects are not subject to environmental review or public hearings.
Eligibility and Restrictions
SB 9 seeks to expand housing construction in certain single-family residential zones. However, this law contains several detailed conditions, exceptions and allowances that apply to the permitting of two residential units, the lot split, or both.
To be eligible for SB 9, the subject parcel must be located within:
A single-family residential zone (RH, RL1, and RL2).
Prime farmland or farmland of statewide importance
Within a very high fire hazard severity zone (with exceptions)
A hazardous waste site (with exceptions)
Within a delineated earthquake fault zone (with exceptions)
Within a flood zone (with exceptions)
Identified for conservation or under conservation easement
Habitat for protected species
Ellis Act - Properties where the Ellis Act was used to evict tenants at any time in the last 15 years.
Historic Properties - Properties located in a state or local historic district, or properties designated historic landmarks.
Additional restrictions apply to SB 9 eligibility, such as:
Deed restricted affordable housing and rental housing – SB 9 projects may not demolish housing that is subject to a recorded covenant, ordinance, or law that restricts rents to levels affordable to persons and families of moderate, low, or very low income. Nor is it allowed for housing that is subject to any form of rent or price control through a public entity’s valid exercise of its police power. Demolition is also not permitted for housing that has been occupied by a tenant in the last three years.
Limits on demolition - Projects may not demolish more than 25 percent of existing exterior structural walls unless (a) the property has not been occupied by a tenant for 3 years or (b) otherwise allowed by the jurisdiction.
Applicants shall provide a complete application package to Planning Division to begin the ministerial review process according to the following: