Because it’s neighbors, not just buildings, who make up a community’s character.
Senate Bill 9 (SB 9)
San Jose’s City Council has demonstrated important leadership, embracing SB 9 in ways that take full advantage of the opportunities the law presents for meeting the broad range of local housing needs. An enormous thank you to all our dedicated Housers who took the time to let the council know how important this is to you- collectively we sent more than 970 letters to council offices!
On December 14, 2022, the San Jose city council directed staff to:
- Explore existing resources, and additional programs or policies that could incentivize the inclusion of more affordability within SB 9 projects,
- Explore opportunities such as education workshops, technical support, and coordination with Community Development Financial Institutions and lenders to make construction of SB 9 homes more accessible, equitable, and feasible,
- Facilitate a robust and inclusive citywide community outreach effort when developing SB 9’s design standards, and
- Explore extending SB 9 to R2 zoned neighborhoods where duplexes are already allowed, and to historic districts where existing design guidelines help protect historic homes.
The San Jose Neighborhoods for All coalition was formed in support of Opportunity Housing, a proposal to begin to remove barriers to building a community of inclusion where everyone can live, work and thrive. With the passage of SB 9 at the state level we made the decision to focus our collective energy on successful implementation of the State law, and to advocate for a separate study of incentives and subsidies that would expand affordability. We believe this is a tremendous opportunity for San Jose and communities throughout the state. This has been quite a roller coaster ride over the last two years, and there will be significant discussions ahead, but San Jose enters this next stage with a solid commitment to expanding access, feasibility and opportunity.
SB 9, which goes into effect Jan. 1, allows property owners to split a single-family lot and add a second home or divide the lot into two and place duplexes on each. The state law outlines mandatory design standards such as minimum rear and side setbacks but allows individual jurisdictions to adopt additional design standards that go beyond the state’s requirements. In the short term, city staff will need to have systems in place to process applications, and the council adopted an urgency ordinance that prepares for the new state law using much of the city’s existing single-family home design guidelines and limits the number of new units allowed on a single-family property to four.
Some cities in our region have adopted urgency ordinances explicitly intended to create barriers to SB 9’s feasibility, many of which are under legal scrutiny and may be constrained by future state legislation. In contrast, San Jose has focused on clarity and rejected onerous barriers. San Jose Neighborhoods for All congratulates San Jose for taking full advantage of the historic opportunity SB 9 offers.
Now, San Jose- and all our neighboring cities- should continue to take advantage of SB 9’s full potential:
- Planning and Housing Department staff should study a broad range of incentives, subsidies, and additional programs that could create opportunities for more affordable homeownership and rentals, without undermining the feasibility of SB 9 projects.
- The opportunities of SB 9 should be extended to R-2 parcels, and staff should explore ways to integrate them into existing design guidelines for historic districts.
- Community Engagement in developing permanent design guidelines must be broad, and inclusive of the entire community – renters and homeowners, residents of all ages, incomes, and backgrounds, from across all areas of the city. These guidelines must be reflective of all of our needs and interests.
Older duplexes already play a role in San Jose’s vibrant neighborhoods.
There are more than 5,500 of these properties in San Jose with duplexes, triplexes, and fourplexes, with examples in every council district. New opportunity housing type homes are legal now in many West Coast cities, blending into neighborhoods where they provide a greater range of affordability and housing choices. To solve our housing shortage, we will need to use a range of solutions to create more affordable choices of all shapes and sizes for all our neighbors.
See maps of where opportunity housing already is in San Jose
Learn more or join the opportunity housing movement today!