Study: California’s “upzoning” bill would not lead to widespread redevelopment

Just 5 percent of single-family lots would likely be redeveloped under Senate Bill 9, UC Berkeley finds

Los Angeles /
Jul.July 22, 2021 08:58 AM
State Senator Scott Weiner is the primary author of Senate Bill 9 (Getty, California Legislative)
State Senator Scott Weiner is the primary author of Senate Bill 9 (Getty, California Legislative)

A central concern of opponents to the latest “upzoning” bill moving through the California state legislature is that it will lead to widespread redevelopment of single-family neighborhoods, but a new study suggests that isn’t the case.

A report issued this week by the University of California, Berkeley found that while passage of Senate Bill 9 would have a “modest but important impact” on housing supply, “the vast amount of single-family parcels across the state would not see any new development,” according to the Los Angeles Times.

Designed to help address the state’s worsening housing shortage, Senate Bill 9 would allow up to four units on most single-family lots statewide.

UC Berkeley’s Terner Center for Housing Innovation found that under the proposed law, it would make financial sense to redevelop just 5.4 percent of the state’s 7.5 million single family lots, or around 400,000 parcels statewide, to build just over 700,000 additional units.

L.A. County could see slightly more development — the Terner Center projected it would make financial sense to redevelop 6.7 percent of single-family lots there.

L.A. County is currently short nearly half a million affordable homes, according to a study by the California Housing Partnership, although SB 9 does not mandate affordability requirements.

The Terner Center studied various outcomes — converting existing homes to duplexes, adding a unit or two in a backyard or demolishing existing structures to build four new homes.

State lawmakers and density advocates have for years pushed to allow denser development on the state’s single-family lots.

SB 9 is something of a retuned version of State Senator Scott Weiner’s Senate Bill 902, which never made it to a vote. Weiner is also a primary author of SB 9.

Weiner has perennially proposed bills to upzone parcels around transit as well, but state lawmakers have successively shot them down.

Opponents say the bill will destroy single-family neighborhoods. The group Livable California called it “the beginning of the end of homeownership in California.”

[LAT] — Dennis Lynch 






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