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The Dirt on SB 9 Part 2: The Fight Over Zoning Continues

Posted by John Hathorn on December 2, 2021
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I’ve heard from most of my friends and clients that they oppose SB 9 and 10 and worry about the consequences of the bills. If you are like most people living in an R1 zoned area you might be happy to learn that some cities in California are pushing back. As you probably recall, senate bills 9 and 10 allow for the building of duplexes and fourplexes on lots originally zoned for single family. This is a big change for California, where two thirds of our residences are single family and the only other state to eliminate “single family only” zoning is northern neighbor, Oregon. The passing of the law came after years of debate over how to address a shortage of available homes at root of the state’s housing affordability problems.

Not everyone is happy over the passing of the bill. Cities across the state, including Los Altos Hills and Cupertino in the San Francisco Bay Area, Pasadena, and Redondo Beach in Los Angeles County, are considering measures that would blunt the effects of the new law. Some of these restrictions include limiting the size and height of new development, capping the number of homes, mandate parking spots for those new buildings, and demanding affordable rents on those homes for low and moderate incomes.

Opponents argue that SB 9 will ruin the character of their neighborhoods. They say the bill overrides local development rules, and ultimately question how the new law will shape the future of their neighborhoods. “We want to ensure that we put in the few constraints that are allowed,” said Redondo Beach Mayor Bill Brand, “It’s all happening very quickly and haphazardly as people are trying to figure out what they can and can’t do.” Brand is also promoting a proposed 2022 state constitutional amendment restraining the state’s ability to override local development rules. He believes that many cities will pass regulations — with some testing the limit of what’s allowed. “Ultimately it’s going to be something that’s going to be determined by a court of law,” he said.

Adding to the list of opponents to SB 9, some South L.A. residents fear the measure will fuel gentrification and displacement of longtime Black residents. To address this concern, a late change made to the law before its passage stating those who wish to split their lot to build more housing must intend to live on the property for at least three years afterward.

Proponents describe SB 9 as a symbolic act to eliminate single-family zoning, a practice with deeply racist roots. Originally introduced in Berkeley in 1916, the designation was used to block a Black-owned dance hall from moving into a primarily white neighborhood. The zoning not only precluded the dance hall, but also multifamily units more commonly occupied by people of color. While SB 9 does not include mandatory affordable housing, the bill’s backers say that market-rate housing ultimately helps create affordability for everyone. Their logic is by adding a unit that a middle-class family can afford; it opens up a less expensive unit for a family one step below them on the economic ladder. Backers say SB 9 is a small effort to promote growth in areas that have long been off limits and argue that many of the restrictions planned by cities are attempts to keep people from building at all. To combat this, a new department was created to investigate attempts to limit the effects of SB 9. 

However, the local officials who are implementing their own constraints say their efforts are to maintain key development priorities in their communities. For instance, under a proposed regulation in Pasadena, those building under SB 9 may have to plant a “minimum of two mature trees on-site” from the city’s list of native and protected species, a provision that is likely to add costs to the project. David Reyes, Pasadena’s director of planning and community development, said that the city’s proposal is designed to protect Pasadena’s tree canopy and that the requirement could be waived if a builder showed the rule would make a duplex or fourplex unfeasible.

The passing of SB 9 is a big one. It’s most certainly will change the landscape of California and our cities now must deal with the possibility that they’re getting a major facelift in the next coming years.

There are twelve new escrows-

1334 San Vicente Blvd – Listed by my partner Loraine Silver for $3,448,000.

306 22nd Street – Listed for $3,450,000

363 22nd Street – Listed for $3,750,000

566 Stassi Lane – Listed for $4,375,000

544 11th Street – I listed this for $4,479,000. This bright and open home has a well-designed spacious floorplan. Ready for easy updating, or just move right in!

501 19th Street – Listed for $5,195,000

237 Alta Avenue– I listed this primo lot value for $5,495,000.

333 12th Street – Listed for $5,589,000

523 9th Street – Listed for $5,950,000

416 25th Street – Listed for $6,150,000

248 24th Street – Listed for $8,995,000

235 19th Street – Listed for $9,995,000

425 Marguerita Ave – Listed for $11,999,000

Six sold properties-

628 25th Street – Sold for $3,450,000 (it’s list price )

248 19th Street – Sold for $3,800,000. Originally listed for $3,688,000.

469 21st Place – Sold for $4,313,70. Originally listed for $4,495,000.

740 21st Place – Sold for way over asking  $5,201,001. Originally listed for $4,598,000.

225 22nd Street – Sold for $7,272,000. Originally listed for $7,295,000.

121 Esparta Way – Sold for $12,920,000. Originally listed for $13,995,000.

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