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Is California’s single-family zoning in danger?

On Behalf of | Aug 4, 2021 | Real Estate Litigation

Residents of Irvine and other areas of California may want to learn more about two laws that are before the California legislature: SB9 and SB10 pertain to single-family communities. The Senate has passed these bills, and they are awaiting approval from the state assembly.

According to activist groups, the bills have the purpose of addressing the housing crisis. They will override local land use plans and pave the way for split lots and multi-family dwellings. However, the bills do not address affordable housing.

Potential litigation

Two Democratic senators backing the bill want to see an end to single-family homes. SB9 rezones all homes within zoning that is single-family and allow for split lots to provide more housing.

These bills may open the way to more cases of land use litigation. This is because there is no consideration for community values such as heritage, views, trees, bike paths, or open space. Land-use decisions are supposed to be for the good of the community, so opponents of the rezoning might pursue litigation. The thinking is that this bill would give local legislative bodies the power. This power should be in the hands of the voters, according to Orange County attorneys who represent the citizens.

SB9 does address some areas

Exempt are hazardous waste sites, high fire zones, and historic districts. Land designated for conservation is also excluded.

What is SB10?

This bill will allow 10-unit “market-rate” apartment buildings plus “granny flats” in most of the communities. Included in this are business districts and neighborhoods that are now single-family zoned.

Excitement looms for developers and investors. On the other hand, homeowners must pay off their mortgages when they split their lots, and assessment of the new parcels will result in a higher value. This makes it easier for developers, rather than families, to create more housing.