In recent years, Gov. Gavin Newsom and California’s Legislature have made increasing the state’s housing supply a high priority.

This year saw several major bills signed into law, easing the creation of further housing density. Two bills, in particular, Senate Bills 9 and 10, aim to increase infill density by encouraging more residences on properties that are used as single-family lots. If such bills are attached to HOAs, it could literally destroy the foundation of such communities.

SB 9 adds two new sections to the government code: Sections 65852.21 and 66411.7. These sections will start in 2022 requiring cities and counties to allow lots of 2,400 square feet or more to be split into two lots and allow two dwellings on each lot. Such lot splits are to be handled “ministerially,” meaning without hearings.

The new units must be at least 800 square feet in size and one parking space per unit may be required unless the property is within one-half mile of a “high-quality transit corridor” or a major transit station. A high-quality transit corridor means an area in which during peak hours a bus stops at least every 15 minutes.

SB 10 creates a new government code Section 65913.5, permitting local governments to adopt zoning ordinances allowing construction of up to 10 residential units on parcels located in “transit-rich areas” or “urban infill sites.”

A transit-rich area is defined by the statute as a parcel that is within a half-mile of a major transit stop such as a bus station, rail station or ferry terminal or the intersection of two high-quality bus corridors, or is a parcel located directly on a high-quality bus corridor.

If the local government adopts such an ordinance, it must issue a map so property owners can clearly know if their property is within this 10-unit zoning area.

Could SB 9 and SB 10 result in your next-door neighbor splitting their lot and adding three more residences, or creating a 10-unit apartment or condominium building next door to your home? Under these statutes, the answer is yes.

A policy decision has clearly been made in Sacramento that housing supply is more important than preserving the quality of life in residential neighborhoods.

Do these changes affect all neighborhoods? What about HOAs, which normally require that properties be used for “single-family residential” purposes?

State Sen. Toni Atkins, the author of SB 9, issued a public letter Aug. 30, 2021, stating her belief that the lot split and “two-on-a-lot” provisions of SB 9 would not override HOA governing documents. That letter is not legally binding but does give some comfort to planned developments with lots of at least 2,400 square feet.

SB 10 eases zoning for mini-developments, but unlike SB 9 is not mandatory.

Common interest communities (aka “HOAs”) are attractive to homebuyers because of quality standards, architectural conformity, higher maintenance standards and other restrictions preserving a certain quality of life for owners within the community. At the same time, legislation increasingly limits the ability of communities to make their own decisions about their community such as last year’s enactment of Civil Code 4741 regarding rentals.

Planned development associations should check with their legal counsel to confirm their CC&Rs contain “single-family residential” requirements.

Kelly G. Richardson, Esq. is a Fellow of the College of Community Association Lawyers and Partner of Richardson Ober DeNichilo LLP, a law firm known for community association advice. Submit questions to

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