The every-city guide to applying for an SB 9 urban lot split.
Senate Bill 9 is a groundbreaking new housing law that helps California property owners split their single family residential lot into two and/or build up to two residential units on each parcel.
In this article, we’ll walk you through the general steps of applying for an SB 9 urban lot split. (keeping in mind that your jurisdiction may have different or additional requirements).
For more information about SB 9 guidelines across the state, visit Homestead’s SB 9 City Guides.
Step-by-step SB 9 lot split application guide
1. Determine your property’s eligibility
Before applying for an urban lot split, you’ll need to make sure your property qualifies for SB 9. Your parcel may be eligible if it’s:
- zoned single-family residential
- located within an urban area or cluster
- at least 2,400 square feet
- free of tenant evictions (within the last fifteen years)
- not located on wetlands, prime farmland, floodplain/floodways*_, _conservation area, habitat area for protected species, hazardous waste site, high or very high fire severity zone*, coastal zone*, earthquake fault zone*, or an historic district
- not been previously split using SB 9
Zones marked with an asterisk (*) may qualify for a lot split, as long as certain building requirements are met. Click on the links above to learn more about SB 9 development in these sensitive ecological areas.
Note: Some cities are prohibiting lot splits on vacant lots, claiming that it would be impossible to enforce SB 9’s three-year owner occupancy requirement on a vacant lot. If the lot you want to split doesn’t already have a house on it, you’ll need to check with your local jurisdiction to make sure it qualifies.
Read our article on how to evaluate your property’s SB 9 potential to learn more.
2. Decide where to split your property
Once you’ve determined your property’s SB 9 eligibility, you’ll need to decide where the new lot line(s) will go. Keep in mind that each lot will need street access. Some cities require direct access only, while others allow access to be granted through a recorded easement. Many (but not all) cities allow **flag lots **(see diagram below), which can be used to facilitate direct street frontage for a lot that is positioned behind another.
Keep in mind that the split must be between 60/40 and 50/50.
We suggest hiring a land surveyor to assess the property and recommend the ideal location of the new property line.
Note: Senate Bill does not allow any demolition or alteration of current or former (within the last three years) rental units or designated low-income housing. If you have any such units on your property, you’ll need to draw the new lot lines in such a way that these units are left intact.
3. Get permission from your lender (or refi if you can’t)
If you have a mortgage on your property, you’ll need to get permission from your lender in the form of a partial release of mortgage. In order to qualify for a partial release, you’ll need to have a low enough LTV (loan-to-value ratio) and your mortgage must be at least one year old.
If you don’t meet these qualifications—or if your lender won’t agree to a partial release—you’ll need to refinance your loan. Make sure your new lender is aware of the lot split plans so that the new mortgage reflects the new (reduced) lot size.
4. Prepare your application
Once you’ve decided on the new property lines, you’re ready to start preparing your application.
Different jurisdictions have distinct requirements for lot split applications, so you’ll need to visit your local City Planning Department's website or refer to your city’s SB 9 ordinance to learn the exact documents you’ll need to prepare.
All SB 9 urban lot split applications need:
- Preliminary Parcel Map (prepared by a Surveyor or Civil Engineer)
- Certificate of Occupancy
- SB 9 Urban Lot Split Application
- Owner Occupancy Affidavit
Depending on your jurisdiction and property characteristics, you may also need to include one or more of the following:
- Certified Tree Report
- Soils Report
- Photos of the property
- Land Records Map
- Grant Deeds
- Habitat Statement Form
- SB 9 Urban Lot Split Checklist
Note: your local jurisdiction may require additional paperwork. We recommend contacting your local City Planning Department before submitting your application to verify that all required application materials are complete and included.
5. Submit your application
Once your lot split application is complete, it’s ready to submit. In most jurisdictions, the City Planning Department is responsible for reviewing lot split applications. Check with your local jurisdiction to be sure.
Note: SB 9 lot splits and SB 9 two-unit developments may be overseen by two different departments. For example, in the City of Los Angeles, the City Planning Department processes lot splits while two-unit developments are processed by the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety (LADBS). If your SB 9 project involves both a lot split and two-unit development, you may need to submit separate applications to two different local agencies.
6. Pay all applicable fees
In most cities, urban lot splits require one or more fees. Depending on your jurisdiction, you may need to pay a Parcel Map Fee, Impact Fee, Park Free, and/or a Recordation Fee. More or fewer fees may be required according to your local guidelines.
If you’re pursuing SB 9 development on either lot, you will likely need to pay additional fees along with your building permit application.
7. Wait for approval
Your city will notify you if your application is incomplete; if so, you’ll need to make all necessary corrections before resubmitting.
It may take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months before the permitting process is complete.
Note: if you want to move the process along faster, you may want to procure the services of a permit expediter. A permit expediter moves your lot split application through the review pipeline swiftly, but services can be expensive (sometimes as much as $20,000, depending on the project scope and jurisdiction).
Although SB 9 streamlines and (ideally) simplifies the subdivision process, the application process can be confusing and time-consuming. Applicants must coordinate with a number of consultants, experts, and city officials to compile all of the necessary paperwork.
If you’d like support, Homestead is here to help!
We are currently offering Lot Split services in select cities across California, but our service areas are expanding in the near future. If you’re outside of our current service area, please check back soon.
To keep up with the latest SB 9 developments, follow our SB 9 News Twitter account.