What does SB9 Mean?
If you live in California, you have probably heard people talking about SB9. Senate Bill 9 went into effect in January 2022 but still isn’t widely understood. So, what exactly is SB9?
SB9 is also known as the California Housing Opportunity and More Efficiency (HOME) Act. It allows owners of single-dwelling units to build more living space on their plots and sometimes split those plots into two.
Benefits of SB9s
Building an SB9 allows you to build a much larger second unit on your plot of land. You can also split your lot of land to build another SB9 or sell it to a developer to do the same. This gives you the opportunity for more rental income, to build a home office/gym, or benefit from multi-generational housing.
Difference Between ADUs And SB9s
Developing an ADU is not the same as developing an SB9. ADUs have been around for a much longer time and have become widely accepted by most states and counties. However, the SB9 bill is relatively new and less widely accepted.
ADUs have ADU size limits (meaning they are much smaller than SB9s) and face different zoning and rent control laws than SB9s. We also know a lot more about the laws surrounding ADUs since they have been hashed out over a more extended period. Since SB9s are new, the law is more open for interpretation, which means we don’t know as much about them yet while California continues to amend SB9 to explain it in more detail.
Jurisdictions Implement SB9 Differently
Jurisdictions can allow SB9 to be implemented quickly or restrict it significantly. Since many cities/counties are anti-SB9, they have placed obstruction tactics to keep homeowners from building them. Some of these obstruction tactics include:
o Enforcing overly burdensome affordability regulations on SB9s
o Having burdensome objective standards
o Excluding lots based on zoning eligibility
o Having separate zoning laws for SB9s and the primary home
So, for example, a city may require you to match the design of your SB9 to both your neighbors. If both your neighbors have conflicting designs (they have different types of roofs or are different heights), it makes it impossible for you to match both and, therefore, impossible to build an SB9.