December 29, 2021 10:18 AM
by Cary Fukui
What is SB9?
SB9, also known as the California Housing Opportunity and More Efficiency (HOME) Act, is a state bill that requires cities to allow one additional residential unit onto parcels zoned for single-dwelling units. This law will allow up to a total of two residential units in single-dwelling unit zones, excluding any accessory dwelling units (ADUs). The law, which passed in September 2021, will go into effect across California on January 1, 2022. Once active, SB9 will only apply to property owners in the R1 (Single-Unit Residential) and OP1 (Ocean Park Single-Unit Residential) Zones.
Who can take advantage of SB9 to add additional units to their property?
Only properties in the R1 and OP1 zoning districts can take advantage of SB9. Some exemptions are in place to make sure the new law does not lead to the displacement of existing residents. Properties that meet any of the below cannot submit an SB9 application:
1. Within certain hazard zones, like earthquake faults, flood zones, and conservation land;
2. Within a historic district or is a designated historic resource;
3. Contains an existing price controlled unit, including deed restriction and/or rent control;
4. Underwent a recent Ellis Act removal (previous 15 year); and
5. Will require the removal of more than 25% of existing structure walls.
What exactly does SB9 allow property owners to do and how can I apply?
There are two different pathways for applicants to add an additional unit to their property:
1. The construction of two units on a single lot;
a. This includes splitting an existing home into two units.
2. The subdivision of one lot into two separate lots.
The SB9 process is similar to the existing development review process in place. Property owners will submit an SB9-specific application to the City of Santa Monica Planning Division. The application will be reviewed to ensure that the project complies with the new state law, checking things like zoning and development standards. Then once the SB9 application is approved by the City, the property owner goes through the normal plan review and building permit process.