Although SB9 doesn’t directly address accessory dwelling units (ADUs), the two go hand in hand and are often talked about within the same hemisphere. Both deal with increasing housing density in California through groundbreaking policy changes.

But, as SB9 is a relatively newer concept, it’s raised a lot of questions about how it works, what’s allowed, and how it intersects with existing zoning regulations and land use policies. Let’s break down some of those questions.

SB9 Explained

First, let’s breakdown what SB9 actually entails.

SB9 consists of two big parts: (1) the duplex provision and (2) the lot-split provision. The duplex provision allows for a single-family lot to now have two full-sized living units, either attached or detached. Alternatively, the lot-split provision is what it sounds like. It allows for a residential lot to be divided and sold separately.

The two provisions can also be used together. A property owner can split their lot and add two units to each, now creating four units on a property that originally could only contain one. Great deal!

As with any new policy, there are some things to clarify.

FAQ #1: Can I do an SB9 second unit AND an ADU on my property (no lot split)?

Yes! Under SB9, homeowners in California can indeed take advantage of the duplex provision to convert a single-family property into a duplex property, and add an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) on the same lot. If you’ve kept up to date with the regulations around multi-family properties and ADUs, you’ll remember that there are some added benefits to this.

For multi-family properties, every jurisdiction is California must allow you to build at least one ADU out of an existing space OR two detached ADUs. So, your essentially achieving the same amount of living units if you had done a lot split as well.

Now, you might be thinking, what about doing both provisions and adding ADUs on each lot? Well, there’s regulations behind that too.

FAQ #2: Can I add ADUs if I do a lot-split and the duplex provision of SB9?

No, you cannot do both provisions of SB9 and add ADUs. While it would be nice to have eight units on a property, policymakers have to draw the line somewhere. SB9 is structured to balance increased housing density with considerations for neighborhood layout, infrastructure capacity, and local zoning regulations. As such, homeowners and developers must adhere to the specific provisions outlined in SB9 and any additional requirements set forth by their local jurisdiction.

FAQ #3: How long does it take to split a lot?

Although you’re not physically splitting a lot, the application process can be quite lengthy. The timeline can be anywhere from 18 months to two years.

During the application process, several factors contribute to the extended timeline, with one significant factor being the ongoing adjustments and clarifications within local planning departments as they navigate the implementation of SB9. Since SB9 represents a significant shift in housing policy, local authorities are tasked with interpreting and adapting the legislation to fit the unique needs and circumstances of their communities.

FAQ #4: What lots are ideal for lot-splits?

For starters, there are basic requirements that need to be met for a lot split. The lot needs to be at least 1,200 sq ft and the split cannot be greater than 60/40. This means that the two lots need to be similar in size.

Next, you need to consider the logistics of the split. Properties that are in the middle of a street may face some extra difficulties as you need to consider how people will access the lot. Flag lots are an option, but some jurisdictions may give you some pushback.

An ideal property to be split would be either a corner lot or a property with alley access. Ultimately, thorough evaluation of the property’s characteristics and adherence to regulatory requirements are essential steps in the lot-split process. By carefully navigating these considerations, homeowners and developers can maximize the potential of their properties while ensuring compliance with SB9 provisions and local regulations.

FAQ #5: How much does an SB9 lot-split cost?

The cost of an SB9 lot-split can vary significantly depending on various factors such as the location of the property, its size, the complexity of the split, and any additional requirements or fees imposed by local planning departments. You can expect to pay anywhere from $10,000 to $100,000, which is quite a big range. However, here are some common expenses associated with the lot-split process:

  1. Application Fees: Most jurisdictions require an application fee to review and process the lot-split application. The fee amount can vary widely depending on the locality but typically ranges from several hundred to several thousand dollars.
  2. Survey and Engineering Costs: Before initiating the lot-split process, you’ll likely need to hire a licensed surveyor or engineer to prepare the necessary documentation, including boundary surveys, parcel maps, and site plans. The cost of these services can vary based on the size and complexity of the property. However, they may range from a few thousand to tens of thousands of dollars.
  3. Legal and Administrative Fees: You may need to engage the services of legal professionals or administrative consultants to navigate the legal and regulatory aspects of the lot-split process. These fees can vary depending on the complexity of the project and the extent of legal assistance required.

It’s essential to budget carefully and consult with professionals familiar with the lot-split process in your area to obtain accurate cost estimates. Maxable can help you out with matching you with experienced professionals! Schedule an call with our team today.

FAQ #6: What are the limitations of SB9?

With SB9, there are two big requirements that are often overlooked:

Owner Occupancy: You are required to live on one of the properties for at least three years and sign an affidavit. This is to prevent investors from purchasing large amounts of lots just to split them and sell.

Preserving Existing Units: For both the lot-split and duplex provision, you cannot demolish any of the existing units that have been rented within the last three years. This is to ensure that existing housing remains intact.

These requirements are in place to protect affordable housing and ensure the equitable distribution of housing opportunities within California communities.

Get Your ADU & SB9 Needs From Maxable

Whether you’re building a simple 500 sq ft ADU or taking advantage of SB9 to split your lot, having a great designer and general contractor by your side is going to make a world of a difference. At Maxable, we’ve built a network of professionals all over California to assist homeowners in getting their projects off the ground. Schedule a call with our team today and meet your personalized ADU expert match.