Should Single-Family Home Zoning be Eliminated?

single family zoning

California real estate law is governed by a combination of state law and local ordinances. Some of the key areas of California real estate law include property ownership and transfer, land use and zoning, and residential and commercial landlord-tenant relationships. Anyone who works in real estate in the state must be licensed by the California Bureau of real estate and there are many regulations affecting the sale of residential or commercial real estate. It is always best to consult with a real estate attorney for specific legal advice.

Because of an enormous amount of regulation, California is one of the most difficult places to build a house and we suffer from a housing shortage. The legislature has recently passed a number of zoning laws that are designed to address the state’s housing crisis and increase the availability of affordable housing. Some of these new laws include:

  • SB 330: Signed in 2020, places a temporary moratorium on certain zoning restrictions, such as density limits and parking requirements, in order to make it easier for developers to build new housing.
  • AB 68: This law, also went into effect in 2020, requires cities to update their general plan every eight years to provide enough land for housing that meets the needs of all income levels.
  • AB 881: Went into effect in 2022, allowing for the construction of accessory dwelling units (ADUs) AKA granny flats or mother-in-law units, on single-family residential properties, regardless of local zoning laws.
  • SB 9: This law, went into effect in 2022, allows for the construction of duplexes, triplexes, fourplexes and small apartment buildings in certain areas zoned for single-family homes.
  • All these laws are designed to increase the supply of affordable housing, by eliminating single-family home zoning. Cities still have some degree of discretion in how they implement these laws and how exactly they will be enforced.

    The idea behind eliminating single-family home zoning is to increase housing density and allow for a greater variety of housing types to be built in neighborhoods that were previously only zoned for single-family homes. This would increase the supply of housing and make it more affordable for people to live in those areas. However, it is important to note that such a policy change can also bring up a number of concerns like parking, traffic, and changes to the character of the neighborhood.

    Opposition to Elimination of Single-Family Home Zoning

    There has been opposition to the elimination of single-family home zoning in California, as some argue that it would change the character of neighborhoods and could lead to overcrowding and increased traffic.

    Opponents of eliminating single-family home zoning argue that it would lead to the destruction of existing single-family neighborhoods and the displacement of current residents. They also argue that it would increase the demand for parking and other infrastructure, and that it would lead to higher property taxes and other costs for residents.

    Many residents of single-family home neighborhoods also value the privacy and tranquility of these neighborhoods, and the idea of increased density is seen as a threat to that way of life. They also argue that many people prefer to live in single-family homes and that forcing them to live in multi-unit buildings would be an infringement of their freedom of choice.

    Additionally, some critics of the policy argue that it would lead to the construction of low-quality, dense housing that would not be desirable for most residents. They point out that zoning regulations are put in place to protect the character of a neighborhood and the well-being of its residents, and that eliminating single-family zoning would undermine those goals.

    In conclusion, it is important to consider the trade-offs and potential consequences of such a policy change, and to engage in a public dialogue that takes into account the perspectives of all stakeholders.

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Julie Gallaher

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