Senate Bill 9

A parcel/lot within a single-family residential zoning district and within a U.S. Census defined urbanized area is potentially eligible for ministerial approval of 1) two dwelling units on a parcel (Urban Two-Unit Development), and/or 2) two-lot subdivisions, each lot permitted with two single-family dwelling units (Urban Lot Splits).

 

 

Public Outreach

The County is proposing Zoning Ordinance Amendments relating to Senate Bill 9 (SB 9) which allows for a parcel/lot within a single-family residential zoning district and within a U.S. Census defined urbanized area to potentially obtain ministerial approval of:

  1. Two dwelling units on a parcel (Urban Two-Unit Development), and/or
  2. Two-lot subdivisions, each lot permitted two single-family dwelling units (Urban Lot Splits).

The County conducted six separate public outreach meetings on April 19, 20, 21, and 28, July 20, 2022, and August 4, 2022 providing information on SB 9 and the proposed Zoning Ordinance Amendments. Please see recordings of each of these meetings and the presentations below.

The County encourages comments and participation from the public, especially from those interested in these changes and those living in areas where SB 9 is applicable.

Meeting Recording:

Public hearings and outreach meetings related to Senate Bill 9 in Unincorporated Santa Clara County:

Agendas and documents for HLUET, Planning Commission, and SMPAC can be found on the County web portal: http://sccgov.iqm2.com/Citizens/Calendar.aspx?From=1%2f1%2f2022&To=12%2f31%2f2022

 

Presentations

 

Senate Bill 9 - Submit Questions or Comments

Submit questions or comments to a County Staff member regarding Senate Bill 9: 
Address

Parcels where SB 9 is potentially applicable

How to use the map:

The map displays parcels/lots that are within Unincorporated County that are completely or partially within U.S. Census designated urban or urbanized area (based on the 2020 Census). Type in your address or APN number in the map’s search bar to see if the parcel falls within an SB 9 eligible area. The colors on the parcels/lots indicate the follow:

Parcels that are Green are completely within the US Census urban/urbanized boundary. SB 9 can be applied but is subject to any potential restriction or any hazard mitigation requirement needed.

Parcels that are Yellow are not completely within the US Census urban/urbanized boundary, and the County Department of Planning & Development (DPD) will need to verify if SB 9 can be applied.

Parcels that have a Red Hatch on them either have a restriction or hazard that will need an assessment by DPD to determine if SB 9 can be applied, and/or what level of mitigation would be needed. The red hatch will show up when zoomed into an area.

Please contact DPD Staff planner if a parcel you are interested in shows up as Green, Yellow and/or with the Red Hatch before submitting an application.

Parcels/Lots that CAN support an SB 9 Project (must meet all criteria below)

Parcel CANNOT support an SB 9 Project (if any one of the below criteria are met)

Parcel lies completely within a U.S. Census Bureau- designated urban area and,

Parcel is partially or completely outside of a U.S. Census Bureau-designated urban area or,

Parcel is in R1, R1E, RHS, R1S, RR, or A1 Zoning Districts and,

Parcel is in A, AR, HS, R3S, R2, R3, CN, CG, OA, ML, MH, RS, OS/F, or SCA Zoning Districts or,

Parcel is not on Prime Farmland or Farmland of Statewide Importance and,

Parcel is on Prime Farmland or Farmland of Statewide Importance or,

Parcel does not contain a Wetland and,

Parcel does contain a Wetland or,

Parcel is not under a Conservation Easement and,

Parcel is under a Conservation Easement or,

Parcel is not habitat for protected species and,

Parcel is habitat for protected species or,

Parcel is not in the -h1 combining district or individually listed as historic and,

Parcel is in the -h1 combing district or individually listed as historic or,

Project does not demolish or alter affordable housing, housing rented out in the past 3 years, housing from which a tenant was evicted in the past 15 years and,

Project requires demolition or alteration of affordable housing, housing rented out in the past 3 years, housing from which a tenant was evicted in the past 15 years or,

If the parcel is in a Fire, Flood, or Earthquake Hazard Zone, proper mitigation measures have been taken and, 

Parcel is in a Fire, Flood, or Earthquake Hazard Zone without mitigation measures or,

If the parcel is a Hazardous Waste Site, it has been cleared for residential uses and,

Parcel is a Hazardous Waste Site that has not been cleared for residential uses or,

Parcel can demonstrate adequate wastewater capacity.

Parcel cannot demonstrate adequate wastewater capacity.

 

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What Can Be Built Under SB 9? (PDF)

SB 9 can be used to a) add new units to existing parcel, b) divide existing house into multiple units or c) divide a parcel and add units. The process requires Building Permits for construction, and Grading Approval subject to County Ordinance Code (if applicable). Applicants should speak to a Planner before submitting an application.

A table of what is allowed on what types of properties with SB-9, see PDF below

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Restrictions

The following restrictions may limit the applicability of Senate Bill 9 on parcels/lots that are within single family zones and the U.S. Census defined urban/urbanized area:

    • Historic sites or districts and sites listed on the State Historic Resources Inventory or carry a local historic designation
    • Prime farmland or farmland of statewide importance, as defined pursuant to United States Department of Agriculture
    • Wetlands, as defined in the United States Fish and Wildlife Service Manual, Part 660 FW 2 (June 21, 1993)
    • Lands identified for conservation in an adopted natural community conservation plan pursuant to the Natural Community Conservation Planning Act, habitat conservation plan pursuant to the federal Endangered Species Act of 1973, or other adopted natural resource protection plan
    • Habitat for protected species identified as candidate, sensitive, or species of special status by state or federal agencies, fully protected species, or species protected by the federal Endangered Species Act of 1973, the California Endangered Species Act, or the Native Plant Protection Act
    • Lands under conservation easement

    *The below conditions must have to be mitigated pursuant to state or local laws.

    • High or very high fire hazard severity zones, as determined by the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection pursuant to Section 51178
    • Hazardous waste site that is listed pursuant to PRC 65962.5 or a hazardous waste site designated by the Department of Toxic Substances Control pursuant to Section 25356 of the Health and Safety Code
    • A delineated earthquake fault zone as determined by the State Geologist in any official maps published by the State Geologist
    • A special flood hazard area subject to inundation by the 1 percent annual chance flood (100-year flood) as determined by the Federal Emergency Management Agency in any official maps published by the Federal Emergency Management Agency
    • A regulatory floodway as determined by the Federal Emergency Management Agency in any official maps published by the Federal Emergency Management Agency

    IMPORTANT NOTES

    • The County may deny an SB 9 application if the building official makes a written finding, based upon a preponderance of the evidence, that the proposed housing development project would have a specific, adverse impact, as defined by PRC 65589.5, upon public health and safety or the physical environment and for which there is no feasible method to satisfactorily mitigate or avoid the specific, adverse impact.
    • For residential units connected to an onsite wastewater treatment system, a percolation test completed within the last 5 years, or, if the percolation test has been recertified, within the last 10 years
    • Please be aware that the County is currently in the process of amending the County and Zoning Ordinances to incorporate SB 9 and is proposing a number of objective standards (as allowed under the law). All applications will be subject to the County ordinances as they are adopted at the time of approval of the application, and no project shall be grandfathered.

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    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ PDF)

      Senate Bill 9 (SB 9) is a new law enacted by the State of California that increases the allowed density on certain single-family lots. SB 9 adds two new sections to the Government Code (§§ 65852.21 and 66411.7) that make it easier to add a second single-family residence or split an existing lot (urban lot-split) in areas which meet the requirements.

      January 1, 2022.

      This depends on where the parcel is located. Only parcels in U.S. Census-designated urbanized areas are eligible. Furthermore, there are several other circumstances that may disqualify a parcel even if it meets the urbanized criteria, including parcels that are in historic districts, historic-designated places, under a conservation easement, habitat for special status species, prime farmland, or wetlands. Parcels in fire, geologic, or flood hazards zones must mitigate for those risks, and sufficient water and sewage must be available. The County may deny an application if there is a specific adverse impact to public health and safety or the physical environment that cannot be mitigated.

      SB 9 “urban lot-splits” are subject to the same restrictions set forth in the preceding FAQ. (See Government Code § 66411.7.) If a parcel has some of these restrictions, please meet with a planner to determine the applicability of SB 9. SB 9 requires that each resulting lot be at least 1,200 square feet. A parcel may only be subdivided using SB 9 one time (i.e., the 2 parcels resulting from the urban lot-split may not be further subdivided pursuant to SB 9).

      As defined by the U.S. Census Bureau, an urbanized area is an area with 50,000 or more persons, and an urban cluster is an area with at least 2,500 people, but less than 50,000 people. Maps of urbanized areas and urban clusters can be found on the official U.S. Census Bureau website. Maps of parcels within the unincorporated County can be found on the mapping tool on the County of Santa Clara SB 9 webpage.

      Yes. In this scenario, the County would deny the application because it would not meet objective standards. It would be appropriate for the Building Official to find that the project would have a specific, adverse impact on public health and safety or the physical environment if there is no feasible method to satisfactorily mitigate or avoid that impact.

      If a parcel is in such an area, the application would be denied if the Building Official determines that the proposed project would have a specific, adverse impact on public health and safety or the physical environment, if there is no feasible method to satisfactorily mitigate or avoid the impact.

      It depends on the particular circumstances of the parcel. SB 9 provides that any proposed two-unit development or urban lot-split must comply with Government Code § 65913.4(a)(6)(D), which excludes projects in high or very high fire hazard severity zones unless either: (1) the site was excluded from the zone by the County; or (2) the site has adopted fire hazard mitigation measures “pursuant to existing building standards or state fire mitigation measures applicable to the development.” Proposals may also be denied on a case-by-case basis where the County Building Official makes a written finding that the project would have a specific, adverse impact on public health and safety or the physical environment and there is no feasible method to satisfactorily mitigate or avoid the impact.

      SB 9 generally does not allow development in a flood plain or floodway, as delineated on FEMA maps, but there are exceptions (See Government Code § 65913.4(a)(6)(G), (H).)

      All projects must meet the objective standards set by the State and County, including compliance with California Building Code sections related to habitable spaces. For an SB 9 urban lot-split, the two lots must be roughly of equal size (each must be at least 40% of the original lot). Side and rear setbacks are reduced to four (4) feet for second units (‘Urban Primary Units”) built using SB 9. Lots created by an urban lot-split are limited to two total units (e.g., one duplex or one primary residence plus one ADU). Two units of 800 square feet must be allowed regardless of other Zoning Ordinance requirements (including floor area ratio (FAR) and setbacks). The County also intends to establish objective paint light reflectance value (LRV) standards for projects in Design Review districts, similar to the standards for accessory dwelling units (ADUs). One off-street parking spot for each unit is required unless the unit is near transit or a car share vehicle. The County is developing new objective development standards for SB 9 projects that would be applicable when the ordinance is adopted. Please refer to the County SB 9 webpage for updates regarding the ordinance adoption.

      Applicants for an urban lot-split under SB 9 must sign and record a deed restriction that they will use one of the units as their primary residence for a minimum of three years. Otherwise, units may be rented, but for terms of at least 30 days (no Short-Term Rentals).

      SB 9 does not address rules or restrictions implemented and adopted by homeowners' associations or included in CC&Rs (covenants, conditions, and restrictions). The County does not enforce private CC&Rs.

      Yes, if it meets all requirements of SB 9 and County ordinances. SB 9 prohibits an applicant from using SB 9 to subdivide a lot if it was previously split using the authority contained in SB 9. Even after using SB 9, the lot may qualify for further subdivision if it meets all criteria under the Subdivision Map Act and the County subdivision, zoning and other ordinances (e.g., minimum lot size).

      For qualified parcels, the process can be as simple as obtaining building permits depending on the specifics of the project. In no case will a public hearing be required for development under SB 9.

      SB 8, also effective January 1, 2022, extends the requirements of the Permit Streamlining Act to housing projects of one unit or more that require no discretionary approvals. As a consequence, SB 9 projects are subject to the Permit Streamlining Act’s requirements for completeness determinations (within 30 days of submittal) and approval deadlines (within 60 days of determining that the project is exempt from CEQA).

      The language in SB 9 overrides any conflicting provisions of the Subdivision Map Act. Specifically, Government Code § 66411.7(b)(2) provides that "[a] local agency shall approve an urban lot-split only if it conforms to all applicable objective requirements of the Subdivision Map Act…, except as otherwise expressly provided in this section." General Plan and specific plan conformance is not required if it would preclude urban lot-splits mandated by SB 9.

      Minimum street frontage requirements continue to apply unless the requirements would physically preclude the urban lot-split or the construction of two units of at least 800 square feet each. The County will be proposing an ordinance that requires a minimum lot frontage of 50 feet for SB 9 lot-splits, and a minimum access corridor of 15 feet for flag lots. The resulting parcels must have access to or adjoin the public right-of-way.

      If an applicant includes improvements to the public right of way in its SB 9 application, an encroachment permit is required from the County and the improvements must meet objective County standards.

      Yes. The County cannot impose a rear or side setback greater than 4 feet for second units (“Urban Primary Units”) constructed under SB 9. If an existing structure is closer than 4 feet from the property line, a new dwelling may be constructed in the same location and with the same dimensions as an existing structure.

      Yes, SB 9 supersedes County parking standards. The County will be proposing an ordinance that requires off-street parking of one space per SB 9 unit unless the parcel is located within one-half mile walking distance of either a high-quality transit corridor or major transit stop, or where there is a car share vehicle located within one block of the parcel.

      SB 9 provides that the County may apply objective zoning standards. However, exceptions must be granted to the limited extent that those standards would physically preclude the construction of two units of at least 800 square feet each with 4-foot side and rear setbacks. (No setbacks are required if the unit is constructed in the same location and with the same dimensions as an existing legal structure). In that situation, the applicant would not need to apply for a variance.

      Title 24 is a state law requirement. Therefore, compliance can be mandated assuming that Title 24 requires separate HVAC systems and water connections for units that are separately conveyed.

      You may not demolish the dwelling if it is rent-controlled, subject to affordable housing restrictions, or a renter was evicted from the dwelling in the past 15 years. You may not demolish more than 25% of an existing dwelling’s exterior walls if the dwelling has been a rental property in the past three years.

      Unlike other recent state laws, such as SB 35 or SB 330, SB 9 does not include any provisions requiring HCD to issue guidelines for the implementation of SB 9. Nonetheless, HCD has indicated that it intends to provide a technical assistance memo on SB 9 implementation. The timeline for when HCD's memo will be available is unclear.

      After speaking with a planner to ensure your property and project are eligible for SB 9, review and prepare the required building permit application materials for a new SB 9 dwelling unit, or urban lot split materials for an SB 9 Urban Lot Spit. Once you have the materials ready, submit an Application Request through the County’s Public Portal. Staff will review the submitted materials to ensure all required items are present, and then begin processing the application.

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