Rezoning in California
We all know California just keeps growing. With more people coming to the state, California will have to accommodate. For many years, there has been issues regarding a lack of affordable housing in the state. Although job opportunities continue to increase and the population continues to grow, housing options have not kept pace.
Fixing the housing crisis has been at the forefront of many people’s minds. Some counties in the state have begun to rethink zoning rules to allow for more housing units to be built. However, to create the biggest impact, the state government decided to step in to make the process move a bit faster.
Like most things, determining the best solution for this crisis came with some hesitation and disagreements. Overall, state officials believe that this housing crisis is hurting the state and the community. To make it easier to build more housing units, and hopefully more affordable ones, California has decided to change the restrictions on single-family zoning.
What is the Impact of Single-Family Zoning?
Zoning laws control what can and cannot be done on a particular piece of land. At both the state and city or county level, governments use these rules to help control how communities are created and laid out. The goal of most zoning rules is to help create a great community that provides opportunities for housing, business development and environmental conservation in different areas.
Single-family zoning designates a residential area where only a single housing unit can be built on a piece of land. This means that you can’t put an apartment building or duplex on any of these parcels. Single-family only zoning has been in effect for over 100 years in the state of California. Most people believe this crisis has been 100 years in the making. Could the severeness of the issue have been avoided? Was this really the main cause?
Single-family zoning makes up almost 75% of all developable land in California and about 60% of all current residences are single-family homes. This means that most available housing is for single family only and most places where new housing could be developed only allows a single home to be built. In general, single-family homes are more expensive and less efficient to create. Limiting the development options for housing in California makes it harder for affordable units to be built and more difficult to combat the housing crisis.
New California Laws on Single-Family Zoning
The governor signed two new measures to help change zoning laws and hopefully lead to an increase in affordable housing options. Senate Bill 9 has the biggest impact on zoning. The bill allows homeowners to subdivide their lots and increase the number of dwellings on them. In addition, properties zoned single-family residential can now have two-unit developments or duplexes built on them.
Specifically, you can divide your property into two and build up to three other units on it. This turns a piece of land with a single home on it into a property that could have up to four residential units on it. Or you can take a property with a single home on it or a vacant parcel and build a duplex. Both changes increase the ability to create affordable housing throughout the state.
The second bill SB 10 allows local government to rapidly change zoning rules. The goal is to help high density areas move quickly to allow developments with up to 10 residential units. Many of these areas see the biggest challenges with affordable housing. Often it can take years for a municipality to change zoning laws. However, this bill will help make those changes happen faster and allow cities to combat the crisis more efficiently.
Restrictions in Senate Bill 9
While the new law will hopefully benefit the housing crisis, there are many people who are concerned about the well being of their neighborhoods and how the new bill will affect them. Many cities as well as neighborhood groups have addressed major concerns. To ease their minds, restrictions were added on when single-family zoned properties can be subdivided and used to build duplexes.
Opponents of the bill worry that these changes will have a negative impact on neighborhoods and access to utilities like water and electrical. Exceptions and limitations in the bill help decrease these worries by controlling where and when single-family zoning can be restructured.
To qualify for subdividing, a property must meet minimum lot size requirements as well as certain location requirements. Local government can also require specific safety standards, property appearance rules and more be met before approving permits to build additional units or subdivides. Some restrictions also help limit the ability of developers to benefit from the new zoning laws.
Benefits of Rethinking Single Family Zoning
The housing crisis is not just for cities in California. There are other cities across the United States that have been affected by this issue as well. Cities like Charlotte, North Carolina, Minneapolis, Minnesota and Portland, Oregon have worked on allowing multifamily dwellings on plots of land that previously only allowed for single family dwellings. The goal with all these rules is to help find ways to increase the housing opportunities for citizens while making sure that people still like living in the community.
There are plenty of perks to this bill being passed in California. The main perk is obviously to aid the problem with homelessness. Another benefit besides just providing more housing is giving homeowners the option to build a backyard unit to rent out to tenants or people in their family. This provides extra income and housing!
Overall California lawmakers hope that this will allow the state and local government to move more quickly in alleviating the housing crisis. The focus in both bills is urban areas where finding affordable housing has been a challenge for years. While these new laws provide opportunities for current homeowners to rethink their property and how they use it, it also expands the possibilities of what you can do with vacant land when building.
New Reasons to Buy Land in California
More flexibility for single-family residential zoning increases the ways that you can use a property you buy. You’ll still have the chance to buy a parcel and build your dream home on it, but you also have the option to add additional units or subdivide your property in the future! There are limits to what you can do with any property depending on property size, local requirements, and property location. Make sure to do your research and ensure that the property you are buying will support the type of development or housing that you hope to build.
Discount Lots has property for sale across the United States, but we have an especially large number of lots available in California. In fact, right now we have over 400 properties across California with many located in Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties! Properties vary by size, location, zoning and more. If you are interested in taking advantage of these changes to single-family zoning, make sure to look for those zoning codes as you are browsing our inventory.
Keep in mind what you are hoping to do with your property, whether it’s in the next couple months or in a few years. It’s important to do your due diligence and contact the county to make sure your plans are possible. Our land specialists can help make your search for the perfect property even easier! Just fill out a form on our website and a member of our team will reach out to help filter our inventory to fit your budget and needs.
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