What is the Difference Between SB9 & SB10?

California’s affordable housing crisis has worsened in recent years, most notably in high-priced coastal cities. Recently, there has been buzz about SB 9 and SB 10, two laws that are intended to address this crisis. But what do these laws mean, and how do they affect housing development? The passage of SB 9 and SB 10 in 2016 brought about changes that affect housing development and the local infrastructure necessary to support it. These two bills are technical, but they can have an impact on the ability of cities, counties, and developers to build new affordable housing projects.

Before we look at any of the differences between these two laws, let us first have a look at what these laws entail.

What is SB 9?

With SB 9, California’s Housing Opportunity and More Efficiency (HOME) Act, families will now be able to have two units of housing on parcels of land that fall under single-family zoning. This would mean that one can create a duplex on one portion, creating four residences when the parcel is divided into two units. Property owners planning to split the parcel are also required to live in one of the residences on the property for at least three years. Some of the exceptions to this law would include areas that are in the earthquake fault zone and some of the areas which are categorized as a fire hazard zone. Other exceptions, including historical landmark properties and farmland, cannot make use of this law for redevelopment.

Apart from these exceptions, a parcel and the proposed residences on their need to meet some criteria to be eligible to be split for duplexes. One of them is that each of the split parcels needs to be a minimum of 1,200 square feet in size. The law also mandates that these smaller lots should be at least 40% of the original lot size and cannot be smaller.

Also known as the “duplex law,” SB 9 will help homeowners maintain and build their properties as intergenerational wealth, lending towards the creation of social mobility and is a step towards equitable housing. 

Are you planning to build a duplex on your property in California? Design Everest can help you understand if you are eligible to build more residential units under SB 9 and help with the design/permit sets needed to go ahead with the plan. It has multiple regional centers across California and has helped deliver $500M in construction projects over the years.

What is SB 10?

This law makes significant changes to existing laws in regard to the creation of affordable housing developments in California through a new program aimed at streamlining approvals for housing projects near public transit stations. Under SB 10, single-home properties can now be rezoned without an environmental review and can be replaced with multi-family buildings of up to 10 units. This applies to properties that are located in proximity to public transit or high-traffic areas. Essentially, this law opens up the possibility of increasing the housing density in eligible areas. The exceptions where SB 10 cannot be applied include properties/parcels that have been classified as high fire severity zones and other open spaces like approved parks or recreational lands. 

Both these laws are aimed at improving opportunities for affordable housing opportunities in California and are exempt from California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). However, there are several differences between these laws:

  • Under SB 10, entire homes can be demolished for the creation of 10-unit apartment buildings, whereas under SB 9, property owners cannot demolish more than 25% of the exterior walls of the existing structure. 
  • SB 10 also differs from SB 9 as the former gives the local government authority to adopt an ordinance for rezoning on a voluntary basis. SB 10 is not mandatory and is up to the local government whether they want to adopt it or not. SB 9 preempts city zoning.
  • Short-term rentals are strictly prohibited under SB 9, whereas there are no such restrictions under SB 10.
  • Unlike SB 9, property owners are not needed to live on the property when new residential units are added under SB 10.
  • While SB 9 clearly holds historic resources as an exception, the same does not apply for SB 10 as there are no specific exceptions that protect historic districts, thereby diminishing the protection for such sites. The districts would still hold some discretion when it comes to the rezoning of such sites.

If you are planning to take advantage of either of these laws and are looking forward to building a duplex or an apartment, Design Everest is here to help you in this journey. With 6,000 and more projects already completed, it is one of the best and most reliable construction service providers in California. The team at Design Everest brings years of experience and ensures fast delivery of services. Their design/engineering services are high quality and cost-effective. Contact us today for a free quote and consultation for your redevelopment needs.

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