San Jose considers end to single-family zoning in historic neighborhoods

New zoning ordinance would expand on Senate Bill 9, which is set to take effect in 2022

San Francisco /
Dec.December 06, 2021 11:14 AM
(Getty)
(Getty)

While many California residents are fighting a new state law targeted at ending traditional single-family zoning in most neighborhoods, the city of San Jose is considering an expansion of the law to help the city fight its housing crisis.

Senate Bill 9, which will go into effect at the beginning of 2022, allows for lots zoned for single-family homes to be split in half so up to two homes can be built on each single lot, the Mercury News reported. While the state law will not apply to single-family lots in historic districts or lots already zoned for duplexes, it could be a different case in San Jose.

“We have a shortage of housing units of all kinds,” Planning Commissioner Michael Young told Mercury News. “We all need to help solve the problem, not just the folks who live downtown or on the east side.”

The newest proposal by the city would combine the provisions of SB 9 with another previously considered zoning ordinance known as “opportunity housing,” which would allow for more density in historic neighborhoods and regions where duplexes are already allowed.

The San Jose city council will discuss the zoning issue at its next meeting on Dec. 14.

If the new zoning ordinance passes, city planners will gather feedback from the public over the next year. Public opinion will be taken into consideration when creating design standards for the projects and when determining whether or not to allow them in historic areas.

Some residents are urging San Jose city leaders to delay conversations on the new ordinance until the state requirements under SB 9 go into effect.

“Both historic and conservation districts are the jewel of our city. Once gone, they can never be replaced,” Naglee Park resident Marni Kamzan said. “Do not allow yucky design standards that you cannot walk back.”

San Jose city housing catalyst Jerad Ferguson said denser housing would only be allowed in historic districts if planners ensure it “would not have a negative impact on the historic resource.”

Council member Dev Davis, who is also running for mayor, has been vocally opposed to SB 9 and even become one of the first people in the state to sign a petition to amend the state constitution to ensure local land use ordinances supersede state mandates.

“I feel very strongly that the state cannot continue to take away our neighborhood voices without giving us anything in return,” Davis said. “I think it’s really important to respect our neighborhoods.”

A report done by the University of California Berkeley’s Center for Housing Innovation discovered that developing just over five percent of the state’s current single-family lots under SB 9 would create about 40,000 new housing units in Santa Clara County.

[Mercury] — Victoria Pruitt





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