California Assembly Advances Statewide Upzoning Bill

California's Senate Bill 9 would allow up to four housing units on lots traditionally zoned for single-family homes, paving the way for more 'gentle density.'

August 27, 2021, 8:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


California

NAPA / Shutterstock

Despite a deepening housing shortage and homelessness crisis, writes Conor Dougherty, California's "State Legislature has struggled to follow their prescription to increase urban density, often because lawmakers fear angering suburban voters, whose preferences for single-family home living have been regarded as politically sacrosanct." This week, the legislature advanced a bill "that would allow two-unit buildings on lots that for generations have been reserved exclusively for single-family homes." 

The proposed upzoning, Senate Bill 9, "was furiously opposed by homeowners and local government groups who said it 'crushes single-family zoning' and would be 'the beginning of the end of homeownership in California.'" Toni Atkins, the bill’s author and president pro tem of the California Senate, called it "a gentle density increase that respects the character of neighborhoods" and "will give opportunities to people who haven’t been able to own a home." The bill, which passed the State Senate in May, "made it through the Assembly by a vote of 45-19" and will now go back to the Senate for a concurrence vote. 

Reducing or eliminating single-family zoning has been a hot topic in recent years as cities and states struggle to create more affordable housing and keep up with rising demand. "So far only Oregon has passed a state-level ban on single-family house zoning. If California’s S.B. 9 gets final passage and is signed, it would add a state of 40 million to the list." 

A second bill passed by the California Assembly this week, SB 10, "would allow local governments to rezone parcels up to 10 units with no environmental review, which would speed development by shrinking the rezoning process by several years." Proponents of statewide zoning reform argue that because "U.S. metropolitan areas operate as a contiguous economy, while their housing markets are fractured by dozens of cities and suburbs that each have their own regulations," more comprehensive state-level policies are crucial to solving the housing affordability crisis.

Thursday, August 26, 2021 in The New York Times

A image of the World's Columbian Exposition overlayed with a picture of Keanu Reeves in the rain from the movie Point Break.

Keanu Reeves Set to Play Daniel Burnham in ‘The Devil in the White City’

Planning is going to get a new level of star power as a limited series adaptation of The Devil in the White City gets ready for television screens in 2024.

August 8, 2022 - Reel Chicago

Kids

Opinion: Aging Population, Declining Fertility Requires Long-Term Investments

Faced with the dire consequences of a one-two punch of aging populations and declining birthrates, one writer has suggestions for how policy can help ensure a better future.

August 9, 2022 - Financial Times

View from middle of street in downtown Telluride, Colorado with mountains in background

Marrying Urban Identity and Economic Prosperity

A new book posits that truly successful communities have a strong economic base and a firmly rooted sense of place.

August 5, 2022 - Governing

Walkable, mixed-use neighborhood in Barcelona, Spain

Could Los Angeles Emulate Barcelona’s ‘Superblocks’?

A proposal in the city council could bring the ‘superblock’ model to Los Angeles, opening up neighborhood streets to more biking, walking, and public amenities.

3 minutes ago - The Real Deal

Aerial view of downtown San Antonio with Tower Life Building in foreground

San Antonio Office Tower To Become Residential

With the building more than half vacant, the new owners of the Tower Life Building plan to convert the historic tower into residences that could include affordable housing.

1 hour ago - San Antonio Report

Embarcadero

Freeway Removal Movement Slowly Gains Steam

Although the concept has recently received more national attention thanks in part to the federal Reconnecting Communities Act, cities have shown reluctance to support highway removal projects.

2 hours ago - Governing

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Hand Drawing Master Plans

This course aims to provide an introduction into Urban Design Sketching focused on how to hand draw master plans using a mix of colored markers.