In a highly charged political landscape, citizens on both sides of the debate can agree that the California’s pressing housing crisis is one front that deserves remedying.
Addressing the housing crisis can bolster efficacy on a variety of state issues- such as by tackling rampant homelessness, an overall reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, and by simply broadening the scope of housing options for the many Californians in need.
As the median sale price of homes in California surges beyond the $800,000 threshold (LA Times) and home construction has seen a 45% decline in frequency (Cayimby), increasing housing production has become paramount.
In light of recent contentions, Governor Newson took swift action towards the housing crisis California by signing Senate Bills 8-10.
- SB 8 extends the provisions of the Housing Crisis Act of 2019 through 2030. The senate bill allows a more rapid development scheme in that it “accelerates the approval process for housing projects, curtails local governments’ ability to downzone and limits fee increases on housing applications, to name a few items”(Gov.ca.gov).
- SB 9 allows homeowners to both build a duplex on their current lot, or even split their lot into two separate ones and potentially create duplexes on each side.
- SB10 simplifies and expedites the process to up-zone lots near transit or urban infill areas. Newly up-zoned lots can provide up to 10 units per parcel and will not need to persevere through a a lengthy legal appeals process.
Those not in favor argue that increasing housing production would contribute to declining neighborhood quality, stress on infrastructure, and corruption within the development sphere.
However, SB 9 and SB 10 have limitations that are meant to curb these possible scenarios.
SB 9 maintains units that have been rented within the past three years in order to not reduce the supply of rental units while
SB 10 is more of a tool that cities can utilize to up-zone more easily- it does not force cities to up-zone, but rather opens the door to this opportunity.
Although these bills represent huge strides in tackling California’s housing crisis, they are not cause for citizen alarm. A study done by the Terner Center at UC Berkeley projects that only about 5. 4% of the state’s 7.5 million single family lots would be financially feasible in splitting. Yet, this could potentially provide up to 714,00 new units (LA Times).
California will still be California, but now, more people will be able to enjoy the quality of life that has made the state great in the first place. These endeavors do not represent complete overhaul, but rather a restoration of what is no longer working.