Despite the numerous benefits of Senate Bill 9, widespread confusion, fear, and misinformation surrounding the new law have caused many homeowners and city officials to see it is a threat to the neighborhoods they love. But when implemented with thoughtfulness and care, SB 9 can help cities of all sizes expand housing in a sustainable way.
In the following guide, we’ll give suggestions for amending your zoning code to support SB 9’s light-touch density potential without sacrificing the character that makes your city unique.
Do you need an ordinance?
Because Senate Bill 9 is a state law that has already gone into effect, it automatically applies to your jurisdiction. Crafting city-specific guidelines is optional, and many cities across the state feel confident in the new law and don’t feel the need to make their own adjustments.
Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland, and Berkeley have all adopted the state law without adding local limits or requirements. Many smaller cities—like Bakersfield, Chula Vista, Hayward, and San Luis Obispo—have opted for the same.
Ask yourself whether your city truly needs an ordinance, or if the state law as written is sufficient for your jurisdiction. You might consider foregoing an ordinance and putting out an SB 9 guide instead. This document explains the state law provisions in a clear, accessible way and helps applicants navigate the local application process.
Good example: The City of Los Angeles
Considerations for local ordinances
Perhaps you’ve determined that Senate Bill 9 as written does not fully fit the needs of your jurisdiction or requires further clarification, and you want to amend your city’s municipal code to specifically address SB 9.
Many cities have used restrictive ordinances to discourage or complicate SB 9 development, but ordinances should be used to expand upon SB 9’s capabilities rather than restrict them.
The following section addresses the elements most commonly included in SB 9 ordinances and offers our suggestions for crafting implementation guidelines that meet your cities needs while responsibly supporting SB 9 development.
Click on the section headers below to expand and read more.
Aside from implementing an ordinance, there are some other actions you can take to support SB. development within your city.
We recommend that you consider:
- Releasing an SB 9 Guide to help residents understand the application process
- Making the application process as simple, straightforward, and accessible as possible by including all application materials on your planning department’s website
- Including all fees that apply to SB 9 projects—even if they are consistent with fees for single-family developments—in the SB 9 section of your planning department website. This makes it easier for the average homeowner (who is unaccustomed to real estate development practices) to identify and comprehend the fees.
Unincorporated San Diego County
San Diego County has a very straightforward application process and SB 9 guide, as well as an eligibility search tool.
Here to Help
Our SB 9 research team has read scores of ordinances and is familiar with a wide range of SB 9 interpretations.
If you have questions or concerns about SB 9 implementation, we’re happy to consult.
To learn more about SB 9 implementation in jurisdictions around the state, visit our SB 9 City Guides and read the implementation articles in our SB 9 Library.