Single-family homes have been under attack by the left for years in California and, acting quickly after surviving a recall election, Democrat California Gov. Gavin Newsom put an end to some of the debate when he signed on Thursday bills that embrace denser housing as a solution for housing shortages.
The bills allow for a “light density” approach to zoning that allows small apartment buildings in single-family-home neighborhoods.
The San Francisco Chronicle called it a “victory for advocates who have pushed California to embrace denser construction as a solution to its critical housing shortage:”
The changes could ultimately help add hundreds of thousands of housing units across the state — though that is still far short of the more than a million new homes that experts estimate California will need in coming years to make up for the affordability gap and to accommodate future growth.
SB9, by Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, will establish a streamlined process to split lots and convert homes into duplexes, potentially creating up to four units on a property that had just one before. SB10, by Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, will allow cities to rezone some parcels in urban areas, including those near public transit, for up to 10 units.
Under the law, local governments will have to approve applications if the projects meet size requirements and local design standards, fall outside historic and environmentally sensitive districts, and do not require the demolition of housing that is rent-restricted or has been occupied by tenants in the past three years.
Newsom said in a statement:
The housing affordability crisis is undermining the California Dream for families across the state, and threatens our long-term growth and prosperity. Making a meaningful impact on this crisis will take bold investments, strong collaboration across sectors and political courage from our leaders and communities to do the right thing and build housing for all.
The Chronicle said a report published in July by the Terner Center for Housing Innovation at the University of California at Berkeley estimated that the bill would enable new development on about 5.4 percent of the approximately 7.5 million parcels statewide zoned for single-family homes, “making up to 710,000 new housing units financially feasible under current housing conditions.”
But there has been pushback against the development.
“Local governments and suburban homeowner groups raised fierce objections about losing control over how their communities developed,” the Chronicle reported. “Organizations representing low-income renters also feared that the changes would supercharge luxury development on valuable new tracts of land, forcing them out of their homes.
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