The RHNA demands a "Housing Element," a list of land suitable to accommodate the number and income ratio of the required building. The land to must be identified by 12/31/22, or the state does it for us. It is meant to be painful. They can rezone, use public land, or (most likely) use eminent domain to fulfill the Housing Element. If, by 2031, the housing is not COMPLETED in all income categories, there are huge fines and other punishments, and all building becomes "by rights." That means the landowner has no environmental (CEQA) or other holdups, like public input or land ratio, or zoning o get in their way. This creates a disincentive for builders to finish, which also causes a FAIL.
SB 9 allows streamlined building of ADUs larger in size than local regulations may have previously allowed, and let's multiple units of various sizes be built on one lot. The law requires only 4' setbacks from lot lines, so those will probably be concrete, as fire laws prohibit planting within 5' of a structure. They are exempt from fire sprinklers. They are considered by the bill's author to create a desirable form of density in a neighborhood. There is no requirement that these be rentals. There is no low-income requirement attached. Extra parking does not have to be made available for the additional units, resulting in crowded street parking. To prevent speculators from buying up homes to this, the owner is supposed to live in one of the units for 3 years, but that is unenforceable.
SB 10 allows for streamlined lot-splitting, in equal parts, and each new lot can have as many as 4 homes or a 10-unit apartment building. Again, no low-income requirements, or parking considerations.
The best analysis I've seen of SBs 9/10 is below, by Cindy Montañez, from the August 25, 2021 - issue of The Planning Report: What’s “In & Not In” SB 9 & 10: California State Housing Bills Now Pending. The piece was written just before passage of the bills. Ms. Montañez was previously District 39 Assemblywoman. I am including excerpts from the piece in hopes of later getting permission to share it in its entirety. https://www.planningreport.com/2021/08/25/what-s-not-sb-9-10-california-state-housing-bills-now-pending
"SB 9 is a cousin of sorts to SB 10, authored by state Sen. Scott Wiener...There’s been some arguing among the many critics of SB 9 and SB 10...as to which bill is more ill-advised from a planning or affordability perspective. Is it SB 10, which allows city councils to override voter initiatives that protect land, jeopardizing both the 110-year-old right to the initiative and dozens of voter ballot measures in California that guard urban growth boundaries, canyons, shorelines, trails, farmland and other land?
Or is the worst bill this year SB 9, which under the false flag of fighting sprawl is arguably the most pro-sprawl plan since California built its freeway system after legislative approval in 1947 of the Collier-Burns Act?
"SB 9 upends residential planning in single-family zoned areas of towns and cities with more than 2,500 people, overriding local concerns — and local planning. It applies everywhere, including in severe burn zones such as Paradise. The bill curiously takes no interest in fire evacuation route capacity in fire zones, instead allowing developers to decide whether the density should go along narrow roads and at the end of cul de sacs.
Perhaps worse... SB 9 seems to say that the denser new housing will be held to new fire-hardening rules if built in the most severe fire hazard safety zones. Yet when the bill’s wording is unwound...— the language says quite the opposite: no new fire hardening is required of developers who choose to build SB 9 density in any of California’s fire hazard zones...
To be clear: SB 9 does not restrict developers in the state's most dangerous fire zones unless the project fails to follow existing building codes. The bill itself refers to a strict fire rule, then takes it away". "Another word puzzle in SB 9 is... that the bill is aimed at helping homeowners provide housing, for the kids for example. Maybe someday. But currently, in order to split your lot as envisioned in SB 9 — you can build four homes, and even add two ADUs, on land where one home now stands — a homeowner must first pay off the existing mortgage. Under law, you cannot owe the bank a mortgage, and then just split away half of the land that the bank still owns..."
(Amy's note here: if your bank gives you permission, this can be done. But then you are also faced with raising funds for the new construction)
"SB 9 is not primarily written for homeowners. It is another developer giveaway for large investors, including rental giants and pension funds."
Montañez continues: "The most interesting messaging around SB 9 is that this bill helps us avoid sprawl, by housing more people in already built-out neighborhoods served by roads, sewers, water and trees. (As an aside, SB 9 will likely destroy a significant number of urban trees and other greenhouse gas-absorbing greenery as yards are covered with foundations and a mere 4-foot setback from the neighbors is adopted by developers, as per the bill.).
What do dense bustling San Jose and charming little Borrego Springs have in common? Under SB 9’s language,...towns of 2,500 or 5,000 residents such as Mt. Shasta or Calistoga are considered urban, despite being a fraction of the size of San Diego or Los Angeles. SB 9 projects, then, are a form of infill in most of California localities. The sprawl encouraged by SB 9 in the countryside and in distant suburbs, on land nowhere near a city bus route or decent broadband, is no longer classified as sprawl because the authors utilize a handy definition that no serious city planner would rely on. That explains how small towns in the Mojave Desert, under SB 9, end up in the same state planning category as San Francisco..".
"...SB 9’s cousin bill, SB 10, utilizes the same tortured definitions of urban areas to justify letting city councils in both big cities and small towns override the California Environmental Quality Act. This is to allow without public review 10-unit apartment buildings with 4 additional granny flats — known as ADUs and JADUs — in all residential areas and most commercial zones. Neither SB 9 or SB 10 require any affordable units, despite potential windfalls for developers given free rein in some of California’s most desirable and unsullied places. How long will it take for savvy developers (one might cynically imagine) to fund city council races in smaller cities and towns, to gain a dominant position on city councils allowed to ignore and override CEQA? ...'
No one knows. The cities are not in the business of building. The hope is that developers will create projects that include a percentage of lower income units (in exchange for bonuses) but there is no law requiring them to do so. They cannot be forced to finish.
Appropriate land can be purchased or donated by the city, and projects funded and managed by housing non-profits. with resources from the state and federal government. They can also be funded by PPP bonds that can put cities at risk and be packaged as junk bonds.
Builders and developers acquire the land and have an easy time getting permitted. The laws are lax. No public hearings or CEQA if building on a spot where housing once stood. Will they build? Will they actually finish? Look around for examples, like the Great Wall of Mill Valley, an eyesore languishing, partially built, for years. If Mill Valley was counting on those 9 units to make their RHNA goals, they would fail.
ADUs have not proved appealing in the past. In open, flat neighborhoods they may add some housing stock if the owner wants to build them. If you're within 1/2 mile of a bus stop you can add up to three: a junior (attached) ADU, an 800sft unit, and another, smaller unit. You can cover the lot as the ratios are removed. No parking added. You don't have to rent any of these. If you do, they can all be market rate. No low-income requirement. The new setback laws given by the state are 4' from lot line to foundation. That's a lot of concrete.
Lot splits enable the property owner to create two equal parcels from one, and then build them both out with up to 4 units on each. This option is easily open to those who own the property outright. A mortgage holder must have the bank's permission and come up with a loan to build the lots out. There are weak, unenforceable provisions requiring the owner to occupy one of the units for three years, to discourage outside investors. No low-income requirements.
Investment builders are one big reason the cost of real estate is rising. With deep pockets, they can buy up multiple homes far over asking price, keeping them out of reach of private buyers. They hold the land to develop as and when it suits them. If they have enough adjoining land, large developments are possible. Again, there is no legal requirement to include low-income units, just incentives (that cost the city and community) if they choose to do so.
All cities in California are competing for the same resources to complete 2.5 MILLION units by 2031
Why is the state so determined to override local controls to build housing? It is assumed that the land is being underutilized by serving one family, and that mixing neighborhoods up is good practice. Views, sunlight, parking ... all are now unimportant. Nobody asked Californians what they thought about this.
WOULD YOU LIKE THE HOUSE NEXT DOOR TO ADD THREE RENTAL UNITS? SB 9 allows the owner to easily, without neighborhood input, to add a Jr ADU and two larger ADUs, with only 4' setbacks, requiring little to no extra parking.
WOULD YOU LIKE THE HOUSE NEXT DOOR TURNED INTO SIX, with no approvals required, and no parking requirements? That's what SB 9 allows: lot splits and duplexes where the original home once stood, on each lot.
WOULD YOU LIKE A TEN-UNIT APARTMENT BUILDING NEXT DOOR? That's what SB 10 allows on any lot in an area deemed “high opportunity," "jobs-rich," or "transportation-rich." Marin is near to SF, so a commute somehow meets this requirement. Ministerial approval is all the homeowner needs -- basically filing a form. No interference from city government or neighbors. No reviews or input.
This is a massive developer giveaway, will cause real estate speculation, and will not increase affordable housing. There is no requirement for a developer to create any units below market rate. They just receive bonuses if they do add some low-income units.
Turning small neighborhoods into dense, residential infill is the stated goal, no matter what the size of the community.
Neighborhoods being bought up from individuals by investors paying way over asking prices. This speculation is driving up housing costs.
To enable this type of rapid densification means elimination of local land use controls and zoning laws. The former director of the state’s Department of Housing and Community Development, Ben Metcalf, suggested that cities view the housing crisis as a civil rights issue. He applauds efforts to “build out the power of the state” to overrule local land-use authority. Even when housing is needed, this attitude is poisonous to local government. Smal, wooded towns still have value. Our neighborhoods have value. Cities are the place for density.
"State control versus local control of land use decisions is a complicated matter in California, related to the lasting protections of Proposition 13, the California Environmental Quality Act, affordable housing, community diversity and equity issues, and local municipal fiscal viability. And overall there is the push and pull of progressive political agendas and sensibilities of suburbanites who have relied upon their local municipal general plans in shaping how their communities will develop."
---STONECREEK PARTNERS – SCP ADVISORS
If you want to build housing now, its ridiculously easy, because the state is forcing localities to make it easy. That means no traffic studies, no public comment... only the slightest oversight from the city.
It’s easy to add up to three ADUs on your property, with only 4’ easements from the building to the fence line. You don’t have to rent them as low income. You don’t have to rent them at all.
You can split your lot now, too, if the bank lets you, and you have a couple hundred thousand bucks to build on both. If not, there’s a developer with cash reserves ready to take it off your hands and make it into four small buildings. That’s eight units where there was one home. Or, in the right area, a ten-unit apartment building. No low-income housing requirements. No requirements to rent. No responsibility to the neighborhood for parking.
This is called residential infill, density. Single family homes are out
There won't be much room left for trees. Expect more concrete.
The house next door could add 3 ADUs, or become a ten-unit apartment building, or the lot could be split (with bank approval and plenty of cash on hand) to become 2 lots, each with four buildings
How is your town set up for this?
Many areas of Marin have limited freeway access, and many residents on narrow windy roads will need to get out in case of fire
We're in a long-term drought. "Finding the water" is our problem. As is handling extra sewage, and other utilities that may already be strained
The state has passed laws that force streamlining of our local permitting for us with several new laws. SB 9/10 opened the floodgates for developers to do what they like here. This is supposed to be a push for low-income housing --- about a quarter of the units will qualify --- but the rest is just gravy, for developers. The brakes are off. No more CEQA, setbacks, tree canopy, parking conditions, or infrastructure upgrades. Lots can be subdivided (if your bank allows it and you have the funds for rebuilding) and overbuilt, In most neighborhoods, large ADUs are now a piece of cake. When our Board of Supervisors questioned the viability of the numbers, expressed concerns about fire safety and evacuation, and pointed out that we are in a serious drought, they got two answers from the consultants hired to bring us into compliance: “It won’t be possible to select only sites that are free of such environmental hazards as wildfires, flooding due to global warming and lack of water due to drought.” “The stance that California … takes is that the communities need to provide this housing. If that means they need to figure out how to supply the water, then that’s the situation these municipalities are facing.'