What Is California SB9 – Everything You Need To Know

California, the most populated state in the US, has new laws in place intended to improve its housing crisis. On September 16, Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 9, also referred to as the HOME Act.  When this law goes into effect on January 1st, 2022, two important things will happen to single-family zoned parcels.First, lot subdivisions will be permitted: lots that are currently zoned as Single Family Residences can be subdivided into two parcels or lots. This act also permits duplex residences, which means you can convert or construct two units on each lot.SB 9 states that a local municipality must approve lot splits and duplex construction (or the combination) ministerially, meaning that now it gets easier to approve these projects without prolonged review or hearings.

All About California SB9

You must be thinking, why is California Senate Bill 9 so important?

For the first time, this new law allows single-family homeowners to split their lots and build duplexes on each parcel. This could create 9,500 new housing units in California per the Terner Center for Housing Innovation at UC Berkeley’s study. Through SB9, the State intends to increase the viability of middle-income housing by increasing density while protecting renters and historic properties.   

Here are a few of the major changes SB 9 is creating:

Homeowners have the power to divide their property into two lots.

Therefore, increasing the value of your land and increasing the chance of homeownership for others.

SB 9 includes important protections for existing tenants.

This bill also allows two homes to be built on each of the lots. This means it legalizes fourplexes in areas that previously only allowed a single home.

Eligibility For SB9

A property should meet these few requirements to be eligible under SB9:

  • The parcel cannot be a historically designated area, and it can’t be in areas of high risk such as fire zones, flood plains, or seismic fault zones.
  • The existing property cannot contain any form of rent or price control.
  • It cannot be a property occupied by a tenant currently in the last three years or have been the subject of an Ellis Act eviction in the last 15 years.
  • You cannot assemble a neighboring parcel or work with another neighbor to split a nearby lot.
  • Parcels must be in urban areas.
  • No short-term rentals, no vacation rentals are permitted, only rental terms longer than 30 days are allowed. 
  • The Owner must agree to reside on the property for the next three years.

SB9 Duplex Conversion

SB9 duplex conversion means that you can build an additional unit within any qualified single-family zoned lot with an existing residence. Or you can build a two-unit duplex on a vacant lot.  

Here comes the best part: you can also divide the property into two for a total of four units. 

The intent of SB 9 is clear; it helps you streamline the approval process while allowing for much-needed new housing.

Other Impacts of SB9 Law

SB9 duplexes can be easier to finance, and this can improve the economic feasibility of new construction.  A homeowner with a single-family vacant lot can expand their unit count, retain ownership of one lot, and sell the new lot separately. 

In short, the value goes up from one house to two separate parcels and two duplexes which is a far greater value.  From an economic standpoint, SB9 has the potential to increase the value of your lot significantly.

SB 9 opens financial opportunities and homeownership opportunities to those who may have previously been excluded from the housing market

How Can We Help?

Here at Design Everest, we have a team of highly skilled and experienced California-licensed architects and engineers who can help you with any SB9 related projects. Contact us for a consultation and quote today!

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