YIMBY tour
Leaders from the Santa Cruz YIMBY chapter led a group on an hourlong tour of homes along the city’s downtown grid that represent what they believe is an important missing piece to the affordability crisis earlier this month.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

State Assembly passes bills allowing for increased density on single-family lots

The two bills — which advocates say would help create more affordable housing statewide — were approved this week in the California State Assembly. The California State Senate will vote on the measures before they go to Gov. Gavin Newsom.

The California State Assembly approved both Senate Bill 9 and Senate Bill 10 this week, measures that allow for increased density in single-family home zoned areas — a move affordable housing advocates say will provide some relief to the state’s tight market.

SB 9 would allow for up to four units on single-family lots, with units totaling 2,400 square feet split into two separate units. SB 10 would allow cities and counties across the state to approve up to 10-unit buildings on single-family lots.

The assembly approved SB 10 on Monday, with a vote of 44 to 12. Thursday, the assembly voted on SB 9 with a similar majority, approving the bill 44 to 16.

Yet, the bills have caused both confusion and contention from some homeowners. According to late July polling commissioned by Housing is a Human Right — the housing advocacy division of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation — 63% of those polled oppose SB 9 and 67% oppose SB 10.

“Californians deserve real solutions to the affordable housing crisis, not legislation that allows corporate developers to amass huge profits building market-rate units only the affluent can afford, driving up the cost of housing in black and brown communities and fueling gentrification and displacement,“ said Policy Director Susie Shannon.

Santa Cruz County Assemblymembers Mark Stone and Robert Rivas both voted to approve SB 9, with Stone opposing SB 10.

On the floor, Rivas shared how the state’s housing crisis had affected his own family.

“My mom just retired from teaching kindergarten at our local public school, where she worked for 39 years,” he said. “She’s never owned a home — that’s despite winning teacher of the year multiple times and teaching over a thousand students over her long career. She was never able to afford her own home here in California.”

With the passage of a bill like SB 9, Rivas says that many Californians will see an expansion of opportunity.

“Let’s keep the door to opportunity open for all,” he said.

Housing advocates shared their thoughts, primarily via Twitter, on what they hope this means for the future of California’s housing stock.

Brian Hanlon, co-founder of California YIMBY, tweeted:

Santa Cruz YIMBY released a statement after the breaking vote, saying: “These bills mark a significant step in ending exclusionary housing policy. The YIMBY movement is prevailing — we came together, organized, and made elected officials listen.”

Note: This story has been updated to include polling data about the bills as well as additional context.