Currently Reading

California Bill Looks to ‘Upzone’ Single-Family Parcels


California Bill Looks to ‘Upzone’ Single-Family Parcels

July 28, 2021
california street
Photo: littleny |

A California bill currently in the works would change laws for single-family zones, allowing up to four units on one single-family lot. It would increase the state’s housing supply, but a study conducted by the Terner Center for Housing Innovation at UC Berkeley found “the vast amount” of single-family parcels will not be affected. The Terner Center says that under the so-called “upzoning” bill, 714,000 new homes would make the most financial sense to build, but those units would take years to construct and current homeowners may not want to sell or develop their property, reports the Los Angeles Times

It would make financial sense for property owners to add those homes on 5.4% of the state’s 7.5 million single-family lots — or 410,000 parcels now zoned for only one traditional, single-family house. In L.A. County, a slightly higher proportion of single-family lots, 6.7% of the total there, would make sense to add units on. Garcia called the bill “a modest reform.”

“It will make a modest but important impact [on supply] over time,” he said.

The Terner Center, whose research focuses on how to increase housing supply, reached its estimates by examining construction costs, land values, parcel size, market rents and home prices, as well as other factors. It analyzed several potential scenarios, including converting an existing house into a duplex, keeping the house as is and putting a unit or two in the backyard, or demolishing the house and building up to four new homes.

The report’s findings add to the long-running debate about the merits of allowing more density on the traditionally prized single-family lot, an emblem of the California homeownership dream.

Proponents say SB 9 would add needed supply to ease a housing shortage — decades-long in the making — that has driven up California home prices and rents, but do so in a gentle way that’s largely compatible with each neighborhood‘s character. They also argue many of the units are likely to be smaller than the existing house and, accordingly, more affordable, bringing online more attainable options in areas near jobs and good schools.

But the bill has drawn strong opposition from many cities and single-family homeowner groups across the state, which say they fear it would destroy quiet neighborhoods with large, out-of-scale projects. And they say it would do so while not providing housing to those most in need and, in some cases, would accelerate gentrification.

Read More

Related Stories

Housing Policy + Finance

New California Duplex Law Permits Development in Residential Neighborhoods

Many cities are pushing opposing regulations—with some testing the limit of what’s allowed


Where the 1950s Suburbs End

The pressure to remake neighborhoods like Clairemont is due not to some sudden shift in what people want out of a home but rather to the sweeping social changes that have already played out inside them


Can Single-Family Zoning Be Meaningfully Reversed?

Although there have been efforts to get rid of single-family districts, they lack the teeth to address the plethora of obstacles to residential development on a scale that would affect housing prices.


More in Category


Create an account

By creating an account, you agree to Pro Builder's terms of service and privacy policy.

Daily Feed Newsletter

Get Pro Builder in your inbox

Each day, Pro Builder's editors assemble the latest breaking industry news, hottest trends, and most relevant research, delivered to your inbox.

Save the stories you care about

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet lorem ipsum dolor sit amet lorem ipsum dolor sit amet.

The bookmark icon allows you to save any story to your account to read it later
Tap it once to save, and tap it again to unsave

It looks like you’re using an ad-blocker!

Pro Builder is an advertisting supported site and we noticed you have ad-blocking enabled in your browser. There are two ways you can keep reading:

Disable your ad-blocker
Disable now
Subscribe to Pro Builder
Already a member? Sign in
Become a Member

Subscribe to Pro Builder for unlimited access

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.