In an effort to ease the affordability crisis, California lawmakers did everything they could to pave the way for the housing crisis, allowing single-family homeowners to build two ADUs on reserved land.
California's housing demand has historically been in short supply, requiring large numbers of condos, transit houses and suburban apartment buildings. Economists and housing experts say there is no other solution to California's homelessness and growing housing affordability crisis.
State legislatures have struggled for years to address the housing crisis, with little success. That's partly because lawmakers worry about angering suburban voters. But on Aug. 26, the state legislature made a historic decision to move forward with a bill. The bill would allow single-family homeowners to build two ADUs on reserved land.
The bill is backed by housing advocates who say it could effectively alleviate California's housing shortage. By allowing two ADUs per lot and allowing owners to subdivide lots, the law would increase the density to as many as four units on a single-family lot. The bill has faced strong opposition from homeowners and local government groups, who say it "undermines single-family zoning."
The plan was approved by the California Senate in May and passed the legislature by a vote of 45 to 19 on the 26th of this month. Toni Atkins, the bill’s proponent, said in an interview: “This is a modest increase in density that respects the identity of the community. It is also a modest bill that opportunities for people.”
Indeed, California's housing supply is a statewide problem. California home prices slowed slightly overall after setting a four-month price record, but prices per square foot hit an all-time high, according to the latest home sales statistics for July 2021. Everyone wants to know how to get house prices down so everyone can afford it.
Ben Metka, managing director of the Turner Centre for Housing Innovation, said it was a strong statement that we cannot live in a world where the vast majority of residential land is blocked off. Our communities need to be able to change and grow because we will grow as a country and it can't all be in the urban core and outskirts - we need to open up all our communities.
In the past few years, California has taken modest steps to ease the housing crisis, such as introducing measures to make the process of building ADUs easier or planning for additional electricity use for ADUs, but these have had little effect. What will happen next? Will the bill be successfully signed? We will wait and see!