Look what just slipped past most of us 😲

We’re all busy. I get that.

Heck, I was in a zombie haze the first 10 years of my daughter’s life. The next 10 were only a little less zombie-like. LA is busy and we’re all crazed with commitments pulling us in a thousand different directions.

Unfortunately, life continues on with or without us paying attention.

Fortunately, I’ve got your back on the topic of the crazy new housing legislation the governor signed into law last week.

Where Did Single Family Zoning Go?

SB9 & SB10 are at least five years in the making and have been pushed almost exclusively by one senator from San Francisco named Scott Wiener (transplanted from NJ), along with a lot of support from a powerful senator in San Diego named Toni Atkins (who happens to be be married to a developer).

These bills allow high density building on single family lots and are widely considered to be the “end of single family zoning” in California, although many would argue that the ADU laws a couple of years ago already did that.

With these bills, you can keep your single family home on your lot, but you can’t expect your neighbor to do the same.

Both bills were passed by the legislature in August and signed into law by our governor, fresh off his big recall victory

These bills Will End The Housing Crisis, Right?

Versions of these bills from preceding years always required affordable housing units.

Inexplicably, this year was the exception.

The bills don’t require affordable units and they don’t require the units even be sold. You tell me whether more market rate luxury units are going to fix our housing crisis.

What Is In These Bills?

SB9 allows a ministerial lot split and has been referred to by proponents as a harmless “duplex” law. What they ignore is that ADU laws passed at the state level a couple of years ago already allow owners to put one primary unit, one Junior ADU and one regular ADU on each lot.

Three units on each split lot is NOT a duplex law.

No parking is required and no infrastructure contributions are required by the builder. No HOA or historical districts can prevent this law. No city or community pushback is allowed and good-bye to covenants like those that protect Candy Cane Lane.

Literally, a “ministerial” application means that the applicant shows up at the city desk and gets the permit without any additional discussion.

One of uglier aspects of these laws is that under the guise that it is somehow exclusionary and racist to own a single family home, proponents of these bills are now putting a target on the home owners in low income communities and communities of color, which are already being described in the media as “high opportunity zones.”

In fact, I recently presented on this topic in front of a community group and an audience member who is a real estate agent commented his clients are already looking for property to develop and are specifically interested in “lower priced communities.” 

We’re all “lower priced” to somebody, but can you imagine what is going to happen to our most vulnerable, lower priced areas??

I also want to mention that this eradication of single family zoning has already been tried in at least two urban communities and it was a spectacular disaster. 

One size simply does not “fit all” when it comes to urban planning. And many days I’m not even sure Northern CA and Southern CA belong in the same state. What does transplant Scott Wiener even know about our end of the state? And Toni Atkins is in San Diego, a city that is downright provincial and totally removed from everything.

In case I haven’t painted a dire enough picture, let me add that SB10 is worse than SB9. SB10 allows 10 units on a SINGLE FAMILY LOT in “transit-rich areas” and urban infill projects. Most of urban LA, including our community, will likely fall within transit rich areas.

And did I mention that the definition for “transit rich” is slippery? In fact, I believe it can be defined by transitory bus routes. 

ADU laws can probably also be applied to SB10 because these are single family lot developments. To accommodate 11 units, development will have to be vertical. I call these projects “middle fingers to the neighborhood.” NO AFFORDABLE UNITS are required. Thankfully, high fire zones are excluded, which is not the case with SB9.

We Just Got Hammered

I cannot overemphasize how devastatingly disruptive these bills can be. And for what? Not for affordable housing. No, we just got screwed so developers can build more luxury rate units cheaper and pocket the difference.

Proponents of these bills used their huge developer-backed budgets to scream about racist single-family zoning and fixing our housing crisis, yet these bills do nothing but exacerbate the affordability of housing and will decimate communities of color.

It bears noting that the City of LA and hundreds of other cities passed resolutions opposing these bills. Sacramento, drunk on its own power, didn’t even blink.

Is It Still Possible To Stop This Impending Disaster?

Sadly, these laws are now on the books. Developers can start buying up properties and start development as of January 1st. Projects started can’t be undone.

But there is one ray of hope.

A group led by Bill Brand, Mayor of Redondo Beach, called “Californians for Community Planning” filed paperwork in August for the next ballot in November 2022.

This group wants an amendment to our state constitution to require that planning and land use be local. 

Think about it.

No matter what your views are on the politics of housing, each local community should be making its own choices and within a context where we can vote out people we don’t agree with.

The petition was filed on August 25th and is currently under a 30-day public commenting period. After the commenting period closes, the Attorney General has approximately six weeks to issue a title and summary. After that, a fiscal analysis will be conducted.

Once signature gathering commences, 1 million signatures are required within 180 days. If enough are gathered, the measure will be on the ballot.

With 7.5 million single family home owners in California facing a big hit to their property values and lifestyle, I hope we can get at least a million signatures.

This is truly a grassroots effort and it will be up against huge developer money. Please help me get the word out about the initiative and please join me in making a modest donation to support the effort. Think of it as a down payment on keeping your home value.

Oh and don’t miss this fascinating article describing the fallacies behind the SB9 & SB10 narrative. I found this article amusing, too. And don’t miss this one about the Sovietization of California.

The pro-SB9 & pro-SB10 camp is very well funded and run a very well-oiled social media campaign. Please help me on the less-financed grassroots side and share this post with 20 people anywhere in the state of CA. And please ask them to each share with 20 people.


Tracy is active in a number of local community organizations including the Neighborhood Council PLUC, Kentwood Home Guardians and Emerson Ave Community Garden Club. The views expressed in this post are Tracy’s alone, and should not be construed in any way as an opinion of any other group.

8 thoughts on “Look what just slipped past most of us 😲

  1. Hi Tracy,
    These two laws are indeed a travesty! However, we live in California which means the whole government and the people who elected them comprise the real tragedy! Anyway, it occurs to me that the very idiots who support this legislation are the same people who, in the interest of the general public, supported ordinances regarding solar rights (meaning the right one has to have sunshine on their properties) and protection of view corridors, which has been championed by NIMBYS for decades. These two laws indeed make them hypocrites! That said, those issues may provide a mechanism to support your position on this matter.
    Just a thought.
    Best of Luck,
    Tom Lockett

    1. About the only thing NIMBYs support these days is dark money. With zero affordable units in these laws and and zero CEQA review, they certainly don’t support helping people or the environment. It’s absolutely nauseating.

  2. Your post is full of inaccuracies and exaggerations:

    “Three units on each split lot is NOT a duplex law.”

    The law explicitly prohibits ADUs in addition to the two duplexs. So two units on a lot.

    “No parking is required”

    One space is required per unit, unless you are near a major transportation stop. Not just any bus stop like the ADU laws.

    “No … historical districts can prevent this law.”

    The law explicitly allows cities to prohibit lot splits in historical districts.

    “SB10 allows 10 units on a SINGLE FAMILY LOT in “transit-rich areas” and urban infill projects.”

    SB10 is voluntary–if you local City doesn’t want it, it doesn’t apply.

    “Thankfully, high fire zones are excluded, which is not the case with SB9.”

    The law explicitly allows for Cities to exclude high fire zones if they want to.

    ” Developers can start buying up properties and start development as of January 1st. ”

    The law explicitly requires a property owner to live in one of the units for at least 3 years after the development. It also excludes any deed-restricted affordable housing, housing subject to rent control, and housing that has been rented at any point within the previous three years.

    It doesn’t sound like you’ve actually read the content of these laws, so I would suggest you visit these links to educate yourself.

    https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=202120220SB9
    https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=202120220SB10

    1. Show me where the law specifically prohibits ADUs. Parking is NOT required at all for JADUs and for any units within 1/2 mile of any bus route with specially scheduled commuter routes. Are you in LA? Or are you spouting off on what you think is going on in LA? Nearly all of urban LA is going to qualify under the slippery definition of “transit-rich.” And you really lost credibility when you trotted out the bit about the last minute owner occupancy amendment. Just this week I sat through a continuing LEGAL education class where the lawyer presenter said the occupancy requirement is NOT ENFORCEABLE. Furthermore, developers can afford to hold one of many units empty for three years. And when does the clock even start running? Likely the minute the permits are pulled, followed by lengthy construction. Simply reading the text of these bills is not enough. There is context, including the existing ADU rules. It’s unfortunate that you don’t have the cajones to include your full name so that we might assess what your agenda is here.

  3. You are conflating the ADU/JADU laws and the new SB-9. They have different allowances and restrictions.

    For parking, SB-9 is more restrictive in that it does not allow the parking exception for just any bus stop–it has to be a specifically-defined high quality transit corridor or major transit stop:

    Off-street parking of up to one space per unit, except that a local agency shall not impose parking requirements in either of the following instances:
    (A) The parcel is located within one-half mile walking distance of either a high-quality transit corridor, as defined in subdivision (b) of Section 21155 of the Public Resources Code, or a major transit stop, as defined in Section 21064.3 of the Public Resources Code.
    (B) There is a car share vehicle located within one block of the parcel.

    You’re also conflating SB-9 and SB-10–again, SB-10 is voluntary, so “transit rich” isn’t the standard for parking here.

    For the ADU/JADU on a parcel using the SB-9 allowances,

    Notwithstanding Section 65852.2 or 65852.22, a local agency shall not be required to permit an accessory dwelling unit or a junior accessory dwelling unit on parcels that use both the authority contained within this section and the authority contained in Section 66411.7.

    ie if a City wants to limit the development to 4 units without an ADU/JADU, they can.

    Regarding developers, the law says,

    A local agency shall require an applicant for an urban lot split to sign an affidavit stating that the applicant intends to occupy one of the housing units as their principal residence for a minimum of three years from the date of the approval of the urban lot split.

    They have to occupy one of the units as their principle residence, not just leave it empty. The date at which the 3 year time limit starts is clearly defined. I don’t know how they’ll handle it with SB-9, but LA City’s current approvals for lot splits/parcel maps/tract maps do not come at the same time as a permit is issued–it happens later. Your argument seems to that all these developers are just going to perjure themselves so they can turn one unit into four, which is not certain.

    You might also calm down with the personal attacks–I’m not criticizing you personally, just your understanding of these laws. The only personal thing I might say is that your posts are surprising given your background as an attorney.

    1. About all I need to say to you is that whoever you are, you have no credibility here until you identify yourself. I am completely comfortable with my analysis of the complete situation.

  4. I’m not actually trying to advocate for this law–I’m guessing there will be a lot of unintended consequences that weren’t considered by the people who wrote it. I also see why California needs a huge increase in housing production–so overall I don’t have a very strong opinion about what they’re doing.

    I am familiar with what has resulted from the ADU/JADU laws, and have spent enough time looking at SB-9 to understand what it says. My reason for posting on your site is in the hope that you will stop spreading fear, uncertainty and doubt about the situation. There’s enough to hate about what’s actually in the bill–you don’t need to amp it up.

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