Four Homes On Single Family Lots?

Bill Pearl

Imagine waking up to learn your ELB neighbor (or a developer who bought their property) plans to subdivide the lot and put two homes on each of the subdivided halves, producing four residences on what had been a single family home lot.

You then learn that a City Council agenda item would let a council majority (with or without your Councilmember’s approval) pass an ordinance allowing up to 10 units of residential density on parcels in your Council district whether or not the areas are zoned for residential uses.

Two Sacramento bills, that the City of Long Beach hasn’t opposed, are now advancing and could invite those scenarios in Long Beach and statewide.

On June 24, Long Beach’s two State Senators, Lena Gonzalez and Tom Umberg, voted for SB 1120 (co-authored by Gonzalez) that would allow four homes on single family lots statewide. Two days earlier, they voted for SB 902, that would let a City Council majority enable up to 10 units of residential density regardless of an area’s present zoning if it falls within certain Sacramento criteria.

On Aug. 11, both bills cleared a key Assembly committee. If they’re approved by the full Assembly and a concurring state Senate vote by Aug. 31 and Gov. Newsom approves them, here’s what they’d do.

SB 1120 would allow (and require cities to allow) four residential units on single family home lots. It contains both “duplex” provisions and “urban lot split” provisions. The duplex provisions require cities to grant “ministerial” (checklist type) approval to proposed housing development projects with two residential units on parcels zoned for single-family residences. The “urban lot split” provisions require ministerial approval to subdivide an existing parcel to create two new parcels of equal size no smaller than 1,200 square feet (unless a local ordinance allows a smaller minimum.) Garages and yards aren’t required.

The Assembly Committee’s legislative analysis acknowledged: “Under this bill, a property owner could independently seek ministerial approval for an urban lot split, a duplex, or the owner could seek approval for both an urban lot split and a duplex.”

In other words, under SB 1120 an owner or developer could take a single family zoned parcel with one home on it, subdivide it into two equal size lots and then build two homes on each lot (four residences on what had been a single family home lot.).

SB 902 could reawaken density issues that surfaced in response city staff’s proposed revisions to the City’s Land Use Element (LUE).

SB 902 would let a City Council (by a simple majority vote) pass an ordinance to zone any parcel for up to 10 units of residential density per parcel in areas the bill defines as jobs, rich, transit-rich or urban infill. All three invite a Council majority to use ELB areas for the increased density.

The bill defines a “jobs-rich area” as having characteristics associated with positive educational and economic outcomes for households of all income levels residing in the tract” (i.e. good schools)

It defines a “transit-rich area” as “a parcel within one-half mile of a major transit stop, or a parcel on a “high-quality bus corridor” with “fixed route bus service” that meets certain schedules. (Bus schedules are decided by LBTransit whose governing board is chosen by Mayor Garcia.):

“Urban infill means site “zoned for residential use or residential mixed-use development, or has a general plan designation that allows residential use or a mix of residential and nonresidential uses, with at least two-thirds of the square footage of the development designated for residential use.”

SB 902, co-authored by state Senator Scott Wiener (D, SF), includes parts of his former SB 50 which failed state Senate passage in January 2020. At that time, state Senator Tom Umberg (D, SE LB-west OC) helped stop SB 50’s advance by not voting. However when SB 902 came to the state Senate on June 22, 2020, Sen. Umberg voted “yes” on it, advancing it to the Assembly. (The state Senate vote was 33 yes, 3 noes and 4 no vote recorded.)

In the previous Beachcomber edition, we reported on three other advancing housing density bills. One of them, AB 1279, is dead for now, pulled by its author Assemblyman Richard Bloom (D, Santa Monica) in the state Senate.  AB 1279, which the City of Long Beach opposed, would have directed City Halls to consider a housing developer’s request “by right” to build various types of high density housing. It passed the Assembly in May (46-20) with 14 Assemblymembers not voting (including LB-area Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell.)

Two other bills we cited -- SB 1385 and SB 1299 (on which state Senators Gonzalez and Umberg both voted “yes”) -- are advancing in the Assembly.

SB 1385 (with state Senator Gonzalez as a co-author) would allow housing in commercial zones. On Aug. 11, with amendments, it passed the Assembly Local Gov’t Committee, a step closer to a full Assembly vote. In support, California YIMBY (“Yes in my backyard”) says “SB 1385 will allow local governments to approve housing development on commercial and retail spaces. Allowing this development on existing shopping center or strip mall properties will help the state achieve its housing goals and spur economic activity in regions in the most need of revitalization.” The City of LB has taken no position on the bill.

SB 1299 (“Housing Development. Incentives. Rezoning of Idle Retail Sites”) has now advanced with amendments to Assembly Appropriations Committee, one step from the Assembly floor.

The deadline for Assembly and state Senate action on all pending bills is Aug. 31.

Bill Pearl publishes, an online news source since 2000.



All the problems arrising are caused by California’s ONE PARTY SUPERMAJORITY takeover of the legislative! There is no balance or pushback of the liberal agenda, regardless of you party identification, these liberal far left socialism thinkers want to change and ruin your life.

They believe they know what's best for you, your neighborhood, your taxes, and your health, so fight back or open wide!

Well to answer the Lena Question! The desire of her area has nothing to do with what the Caucus has set for its agenda. The people of Long Beach as you know, do not pay too much attention to SACTO until it is dropped in our laps. This "forward" thinking is is a community destroyer in favor of development and making all properties if possible cracker boxes with sub-division potential for more taxation. This destroys all levels of property ownership, ruins parking, over crowds schools, forces property ownership for families to be split for and by development. This is the new face of developmental give-a-way starting with the greediest first and destroying the neighborhoods. "CRACKER-BOX PROPERTY OWNER LEGISLATION" that will destroy the neighborhoods for tenants with no parking and property owners too. When open our doors to every whim of zoning and the like, that finite number for livable community and sustainability disappears and there is nothing but chaos, It defeats the purpose of reconciliation with equity and equality because there will be less opportunity for ownership.


(Aug. 22, 2020, 6:20 p.m.) -- A crucial Sacramento vote with permanent single family neighborhood consequences is now imminent (possibly on Monday Aug. 24 although we're told Tuesday Aug. 25 is more likely) on SB 1120 ...


Too late to weigh-in with reps on this?

Contacted by email form both Assemblyman O'Donnell:

& Speaker Rendon:

Used Rendon's district office address/zip since not a constituent of his district (email form requirement.)

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