Governor Newsom signed SB 9 yesterday, but it won’t change much because building an ADU is cost prohibitive. How many people need one bad enough that they would spend $50,000 to $100,000 and go through the hassle? Plus the number of available parcels will limit how many could get built:
Senate Bill 9, one of several measures alluded to by the signs, would technically allow as many as two duplexes, two houses with attached units, or a combination — capped at four units — on single-family lots across California, without local approval.
On Sept. 16, two days after winning the recall election, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the bill into law, despite pleas from cities to veto it.
But some analysts say the linchpin of the Senate’s housing package would probably have a negligible impact on the California housing crisis, at least in the short-term. As for the nightmare scenario described by opponents? There simply isn’t enough evidence to back that up, either.
That’s because a change to zoning means very little in reality, starting with the number of units that would actually get built, these analysts say.
Development would be realistic in only about 410,000 parcels in California at most, or 5.4% of land now occupied by single-family houses, according to a new study by the Terner Center for Housing Innovation at UC Berkeley based on the version of the bill without the new amendments.
That could add a total of 700,000 new units across California, if every single homeowner for whom the change made sense chose to develop. “Overall, that’s a sliver of the 7.5 million single-family homes throughout the state,” said David Garcia, policy director for the Terner Center.
One of the new amendments — which requires owners to live in the home for at least three years after they split their lots and build as many as four units — cuts the potential total of new units by 40,000, or 6%.
The analysis was conducted using current land values and development costs, so the number of feasible units could change. But Garcia said that was unlikely in the near-term. The study found that the typical property owner could not afford to build a second unit, much less a third or fourth. Other barriers: The new split lot couldn’t be less than 1,200 square feet, and historic districts, fire hazard zones and some rural areas would be barred from development.
“You would not see the wholesale bulldozing of single-family homes, as we’ve seen characterized in many of the public comments in committee hearings,” Garcia said. “There’s just no financial basis for that fear.”