Home California California State Assembly Approves Higher-Density Housing Bill in SB 10

California State Assembly Approves Higher-Density Housing Bill in SB 10

by ECT
Senator Scott Wiener

SACRAMENTO – Senator Scott Wiener’s (D-San Francisco) legislation, Senate Bill 10, passed the Assembly. SB 10 creates a voluntary, streamlined process for cities to zone for missing middle multi-unit housing. The bill passed with a bipartisan vote of 41-9, and will now be returned to the Senate for final approval before heading to Governor Newsom’s desk.

SB 10 allows cities to upzone non-sprawl areas (areas that are close to transit or in existing urbanized locations, thus reducing vehicle usage and long commutes) up to ten unit buildings, if they choose to. This streamlining tool will be a powerful one for cities to increase density. By allowing cities to choose to zone for up to 10 units per parcel, SB 10 makes it possible for cities to build significantly more housing in a way that makes sense within their local context.

Right now, it is illegal to build any more than one unit of housing per parcel in areas subject to single family zoning. This hyper-low density zoning in existing urbanized areas and near transit leads to sprawl development, which increases carbon emissions and wildfire risk. SB 10 allows cities to voluntarily increase density up to ten unit buildings in a streamlined way, without having to go through the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Cities will also be able to designate these projects as by right, meaning they can be approved ministerially and without a lengthy approval process.

SB 10 is sponsored by California YIMBY.

“California’s severe housing shortage requires many strategies, and making it easier and faster for cities to zone for multi-unit housing is a critical piece of the puzzle,” said Senator Wiener. “This voluntary tool will help local governments throughout California fundamentally reshape their zoning in infill areas, and help our state climb out of the housing crisis we face. Today is a step in the right direction, and we must continue to build on this victory to end California’s housing crisis.”

“Legalizing small apartment buildings near transit and in urban infill areas reduces environmental impacts and slashes climate pollution,” said Brian Hanlon, CEO of California YIMBY. “SB 10 will make it easier for cities across our state to approve these types of homes, and put us on track to more sustainable, affordable, inclusive communities.”

Bill Votes:  44-12
Aguiar-Curry, Arambula, Berman, Calderon, Carrillo, Chau, Chiu, Cooley, Cooper, Cunningham, Megan Dahle, Flora, Fong, Gabriel, Eduardo Garcia, Gipson, Lorena Gonzalez, Grayson, Holden, Irwin, Kalra, Kiley, Lackey, Lee, Levine, Low, Mayes, Medina, Mullin, Patterson, Quirk, Quirk-Silva, Ramos, Reyes, Robert Rivas, Rodriguez, Blanca Rubio, Ting, Villapudua, Ward, Akilah Weber, Wicks, Wood, Rendon
Bauer-Kahan, Bloom, Boerner Horvath, Frazier, Muratsuchi, Nazarian, O’Donnell, Petrie-Norris, Salas, Seyarto, Stone, Voepel
Bennett, Bigelow, Bryan, Burke, Ce


The Planning and Zoning Law requires a city or county to adopt a general plan for land use development within its boundaries that includes, among other things, a housing element. Existing law requires an attached housing development to be a permitted use, not subject to a conditional use permit, on any parcel zoned for multifamily housing if at least certain percentages of the units are available at affordable housing costs to very low income, lower income, and moderate-income households for at least 30 years and if the project meets specified conditions relating to location and being subject to a discretionary decision other than a conditional use permit. Existing law provides for various incentives intended to facilitate and expedite the construction of affordable housing.
This bill would, notwithstanding any local restrictions on adopting zoning ordinances, authorize a local government to adopt an ordinance to zone any parcel for up to 10 units of residential density per parcel, at a height specified in the ordinance, if the parcel is located in a transit-rich area or an urban infill site, as those terms are defined. The bill would prohibit a local government from adopting an ordinance pursuant to these provisions on or after January 1, 2029. The bill would specify that an ordinance adopted under these provisions, and any resolution to amend the jurisdiction’s General Plan, ordinance, or other local regulation adopted to be consistent with that ordinance, is not a project for purposes of the California Environmental Quality Act. The bill would prohibit an ordinance adopted under these provisions from superceding a local restriction enacted or approved by a local voter initiative that designates publicly owned land as open-space land or for park or recreational purposes.
The bill would impose specified requirements on a zoning ordinance adopted under these provisions, including a requirement that the zoning ordinance clearly demarcate the areas that are subject to the ordinance and that the legislative body make a finding that the ordinance is consistent with the city or county’s obligation to affirmatively further fair housing. The bill would require an ordinance to be adopted by a 2/3 vote of the members of the legislative body if the ordinance supersedes any zoning restriction established by local voter initiative.
The bill would prohibit an ordinance adopted under these provisions from reducing the density of any parcel subject to the ordinance and would prohibit a legislative body from subsequently reducing the density of any parcel subject to the ordinance. The bill would prohibit a residential or mixed-use residential project consisting of 10 or more units that is located on a parcel zoned pursuant to these provisions from being approved ministerially or by right or from being exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act, except as specified.
This bill would include findings that changes proposed by this bill address a matter of statewide concern rather than a municipal affair and, therefore, apply to all cities, including charter cities.


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Robert C. Aug 24, 2021 - 8:21 am

Any idea pushed by Scott Wiener must have something wrong with it and this is no exception. It’s another grab by the state to take away local governments’ authority for zoning and land use. Mr. Wiener won’t be happy until the entire state looks like San Francisco.

Dave Johnson Aug 24, 2021 - 9:30 am

Sounds like a nightmare

Lola Saavedra Aug 25, 2021 - 12:21 am

Oh yeah! Let’s create more density! Let’s squeeze in more people! We don’t have enough! Let’s bring in more people here. Forty million inhabitants here is way too low a figure. With serious water shortage problems and years of drought, we are doing just fine! Oh, let’s not forget the mounting traffic problems and the crime as well. This idiot Wiener always comes up with such fabulous solutions! WE should be so lucky!

Isabella Cortese Aug 25, 2021 - 4:42 pm

Hey Brian Hanlon, CEO of YIMBY! Guess what, cupcake? We will fight you tooth-and-nail like you could never gave imagined over your little scheme to squeeze us into oblivion! You can count on it, ya twirp!

Comments are closed.