Why a California Plan to Build More Homes Is Failing

By Christine Mai-Duc, Wall Street Journal

Only a few dozen people have built housing under a law allowing them to construct duplexes alongside single-family houses

When California legislators voted in 2021 to eliminate zoning laws that require neighborhoods to have only single family homes, supporters celebrated it as a tool to alleviate the state’s crippling housing shortage. Opponents said it heralded the end of homeownership in the state.

California’s statewide median home price reached a record high of $904,210 in April, according to the California Association of Realtors. The Golden State frequently jockeys with Hawaii for the least affordable housing in the nation, and researchers have blamed high home prices for years of net migration to more affordable states. 

A web of restrictions

In response to the law, Muhammad Alameldin, policy associate at the Terner Center for Housing Innovation at the University of California, Berkeley said, cities have imposed limitations on height, square footage and even landscaping to make it more difficult for homeowners to subdivide their properties profitably. 

The Los Angeles suburb of Temple City, for example, previously barred SB9 properties from having driveways or off-street parking, while at the same time refusing to issue overnight street parking passes for residents living there. The city also required a 1,000-square-foot courtyard separating housing units, and specified the size and style of eaves, porches and window shutters to conform to either Spanish Colonial Revival or Craftsman architecture. 

Read the entire article on the Wall Street Journal’s website.