If you live in a single-family home in California, it’s likely everyone else in your neighborhood does too.
That could change under a state measure that would require California cities and counties to permit duplexes, triplexes and fourplexes on much of the residential land now zoned for only one house. The proposal was recently added to Senate Bill 50, legislation by Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) that also would allow midrise apartment construction near mass transit and small apartment complexes and townhomes in wealthy communities in large counties including Los Angeles.
The bill would not spell the end of single-family housing in the state. Developers could continue to build such homes on their land if they chose, and the legislation prohibits the demolition of single-family homes to build fourplexes without further government review. Even so, allowing as many as four homes on land where now just one is permitted would trigger significant change compared with how California has grown over much of the last century.
Nearly two-thirds of the residences in California are single-family homes, according to U.S. Census data. And between half and three-quarters of the developable land in much of the state is zoned for single-family housing only, according to a 2018 survey by UC Berkeley’s Terner Center for Housing Innovation that included responses from half the state’s cities and counties.
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