Senate Passed SB 9 – Measure Now Awaits Governor Action

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By Vanguard Capitol Staff

Sacramento, CA – It is perhaps the most controversial bill facing the Governor now – the question of what to do with single family zoning.  The Senate just a few days after the Assembly passed a modified version of the legislation has now thrown the ball squarely into the governor’s court two weeks before he faces a recall vote.

SB 9 streamlines a homeowner’s ability to build a duplex or split their current residential lot, allowing for a maximum of four units on a single-family parcel.

The bill ensures homeowners, not investors, would benefit by requiring the owner to live in one of the units for a minimum of three years after getting approval for a lot split and prohibiting ministerial lot splits on adjacent parcels by the same individual. It strikes a balance between granting flexibility to homeowners and protecting local control, historic neighborhoods, and environmentally sensitive areas.

One of the critical aspects of SB 9 is that it would allow more families to build intergenerational wealth—a currency that is key to combating inequity and creating social mobility.

The bill additionally protects existing renters by excluding properties where a tenant has resided in the past three years.

Working families would be able to find rentals in more neighborhoods, opening up stable housing and resources to them and cutting back on long commutes for workers.

SB 9 last week passed the Assembly after Senator Atkins added a few amendments that give local jurisdictions limited ability to veto units that threaten public health and safety.  Amendments also made potential speculation more difficult by requiring there to be owner occupation of one of the units for specified period of time.

SB 9 is a critical piece of the Senate’s Housing Package, and would provide homeowners more options to create intergenerational wealth and widen opportunities for California’s working families.

“Growing up, my family moved between rentals—some better than others, but none of them ‘ours.’ Even though my mom and dad clocked into honest jobs their whole lives, the idea that the Atkins family could own a home of our own was hardly a goal—it was a far off fantasy. Today, too many hard-working California families are saying the same. With SB 9, we have the chance to change that,” Pro Tem Atkins said.

The Senator added, “This bill would give homeowners the tools to help ease our state’s housing shortage while creating a new source of income in their own backyard. It would allow our communities to welcome new families to the neighborhood and help more folks set foot on the path to buying their first home.

“SB 9 is about giving Californians the opportunity to pursue their version of the California Dream, and I am grateful to my colleagues in both houses for standing by that objective and standing by this bill.”

SB 9, which passed the Senate on a 28-7 bipartisan vote, is the culmination of multiple years of collaboration and a shared determination to spur housing production in California.

The bill was strengthened by the work of its coauthors, Senators Anna Caballero, Dave Cortese, Lena Gonzalez, Mike McGuire, Susan Rubio, and Scott Wiener, and Assemblymembers Robert Rivas and Buffy Wicks, and those who advocated for its advancement, including Speaker Anthony Rendon and Assemblymember Cristina Garcia.

As a key piece of the Senate’s ‘Building Opportunities for All’ housing package, it also was supported by the Senate Housing Lead Group, which includes Senators María Elena Durazo, Richard Roth, and Nancy Skinner.

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