State Housing Law: SB 9

SB 9, also known as the California Housing Opportunity and More Efficiency (HOME) Act, requires cities to allow one additional residential unit on parcels zoned for single-family dwelling units.  This law allows up to a total of two residential units per parcel in single-family residential zoning districts, excluding any accessory dwelling units (ADUs). 

Where Does SB 9 Apply?

SB 9 applies to properties in the RS (Single-Family Residential), and single-family residential PD (Planned Development) districts.  The following exclusions are provided in the law to make sure that it does not lead to the displacement of existing residents or increase development in potentially hazardous areas:

  1.  Within certain hazard zones, like earthquake faults, flood zones and conservation land.
  2. Within a historic district or is a designated historic resource.
  3. Contains an existing affordability-controlled unit, including deed restriction or rent control.
  4. Will require removal of more than 25% of existing structure walls.
  5. The existing house may not have been used as a rental for the past 3 years or undergone a recent Ellis Act removal (15 year); and
  6. The applicant must sign an affidavit that they intend to occupy one of the units created as their principal residence for a minimum of 3 years after approval of the subdivision.
SB 9 Pathways

There are two main pathways for applicants using SB 9 to add an additional unit to their property.  These pathways can be used individually or in combination:

  1. “Add a Dwelling Unit”:  Allows the construction of two dwelling units on a single lot – this includes splitting an existing house into two units or constructing a separate unit.
  2. “Lot Split” (Parcel Map): Allows subdivision of one existing lot into two separate lots within a single-family residential zone for residential use. No new lot may be created that is less than 40% of the original lot size or less than 1,200 square feet.  The resulting two lots may each be developed with two housing units of at least 800 square feet each.
More Information

If a lot split will be proposed, a preapplication meeting with the City of Benicia will be the first step. A pre-application and/or housing development application may be filed through the Benicia Permit Center.  The application will be reviewed to ensure the property complies with state and local law, checking for compliance with zoning and development standards.  SB 9 does not exempt development applications from City fees.