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LA Judge Deals a Blow to Law Allowing Duplexes in Single-Family Tracts
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By Anthony Haddad
Published 1 month ago on
April 26, 2024

A recent decision by a Los Angeles County judge highlights that charter cities such as Fresno are not bound by SB 9, also known as the "duplex" law, enacted in 2021. (Shutterstock)

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A recent decision by a Los Angeles County judge highlights that charter cities such as Fresno are not bound by Senate Bill 9, also known as the “duplex” law, enacted in 2021. This law permits the construction of up to four homes on a single lot in single-family neighborhoods.

Superior Court Judge Curtis Kin, in a ruling released on Thursday, stated that the law fails to achieve its intended objective of creating more affordable housing. Consequently, it does not meet the rigorous standard required to supersede local zoning control.

Judge Kin says that SB 9 “is neither reasonably related to its stated concern of ensuring access to affordable housing nor narrowly tailored to avoid interference with local government.” This ruling specifically impacts the state’s 121 charter cities and does not apply to over 400 “general law” cities and counties without their own charters. Clovis is an example of a general law city.

SB 9, seen as a significant shift in California’s zoning policies, permits lot splits in suburban areas, allowing one home and one “accessory dwelling unit” on each new lot, replacing one home with up to four units.

The law was designed to address the escalating housing costs by providing renters and working families with more opportunities in neighborhoods they might otherwise be priced out of.

However, the judge’s ruling questions its effectiveness in achieving this goal.

Several Southern California cities, including Redondo Beach, Torrance, Carson, Whittier, and Del Mar, filed a lawsuit against SB 9, arguing that it violated the state constitution’s provisions granting “home rule” cities the authority to manage their own municipal affairs.

Judge Kin highlighted that the state failed to demonstrate how SB 9 would increase the availability of affordable housing for low-income families, particularly in economically thriving cities.

This ruling underscores the ongoing debate over the balance between state mandates and local autonomy in addressing housing affordability challenges.

Read more about this topic by visiting The Orange County Register.

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Anthony Haddad,
Multimedia Journalist
Anthony W. Haddad, who graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with his undergraduate degree and has an MBA at Fresno State, is the Swiss Army knife of GV Wire. He writes stories, manages social media, and represents the organization on the ground.

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