NewsPrice of Paradise


Local cities consider compliance with new state law that allows for increased housing density

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Posted at 5:56 PM, Dec 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-07 22:42:48-05

There’s a new law about to go into effect in California that will allow up to four units per single-family lot.

The City of Paso Robles is set to discuss the new housing law during a public hearing at Tuesday’s city council meeting.

It’s aimed at easing the housing crisis in California by putting an end to traditional single-family zoning restrictions.

Senate Bill 9 will essentially allow homeowners of single-family residences to split their lot and build up to two housing units on each half.

“Through our analysis, we found that out of about 7 million single-family homes throughout the State of California, only about 1% of those lots would see any new home building as a result of SB 9,” explained David Garcia, Policy Director of the Terner Center for Housing Innovation at UC Berkeley.

According to the Terner Center for Housing Innovation, this new law could allow for 8,500 new units in San Luis Obispo County.

“For years, we've been planning water, we've been planning sewer, we've been planning streets, we've been planning all of these municipal services to accommodate 44,000 people,” said Mayor Steve Martin of Paso Robles. “The downside risk of SB 9 is that through a very simple and quick process, that population cap could be exceeded and the design capacities of those services could also be exceeded.”

The new law could be the most impactful change to housing policy in years.

“It allows homeowners to be part of the solution in providing the missing middle housing that we're hearing so much about,” said Krista Jeffries, a local resident and SB 9 proponent. “There's a lot of options Senate Bill 9 legalizes that previously weren't obtainable.”

But those against the bill say this will change the look and feel of their neighborhoods. There’s also concern that increasing density could affect the value of their home.

“It's not going to change any one street or one neighborhood at least for not many years based on the analysis that we did,” Garcia said.

Meanwhile, a grassroots organization has launched an effort to put an initiative on the November 2022 ballot to restore local control over local zoning issues.

“You know, Sacramento, you're taking away all the land-use power and we don't want zoning from the state,” said Mayor Peggy Huang of Yorba Linda, a proponent of the initiative. “Zoning should be here at the local level where the local government knows the community.”

The Paso Robles City Council will discuss an urgency ordinance that will allow the city to comply with SB 9. It’s set to go into effect on January 1 of next year.

We will know in April if that voting initiative ends up on the November ballot.

SB 9 is also on the agenda for the planning commission meeting in the City of San Luis Obispo on Wednesday night.