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California ADU question with multifamily zoning

Posted Jun 19 2022, 15:51

I have an old (1930) house, it has Residential multifamily 6 zoning. That means every 6,000 square feet only one multifamily unit. Since the lot is 10,555 square feet there is nothing more than one unit allowed under the multifamily zoning. If I had Residential zoning because of SB-9 more could be allowed on the lot, plus a lot split. FYI the lot used to be zoned commercial when it was bought. So the county has kind of devalued things in my opinion because of zoning changes.

From the County Website:

If a multifamily or qualifying mixed-use building exists or is planned for this parcel, the following ADU's are allowed: Detached ADU's: At least one and up to two detached ADUs, 800-1200 sf dependent on FAR and lot coverage.

If a single family dwelling exists or is planned for this parcel, an ADU and JADU may be allowed, subject to approval for a non conforming use.

Even though only one unit is allowed and a single family exists it seems we can't do 2 detached ADUs like what would be allowed with a multifamily building ? I guess that would be one apartment or one condo ? 

If they scrape the house off and put a condo or whatever qualifies as multifamily, could they then put 2 detached ADUs ?

I know a detached ADU plus an JADU could be allowed now but that is not as desirable as the JADU has to be under 500 square feet and attached.

Thanks

San Jose, California

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Dan Heuschele#4 General Real Estate Investing Contributor
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Dan Heuschele#4 General Real Estate Investing Contributor
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Replied Jun 19 2022, 20:26

Under ADU rules (not SB9) you can add 2 ADUs if you have multiple units. Your zoning does not allow you to have multiple units so you are limited to the primary residence, one ADU, and one JADU.

The JADU will require owner occupancy to rent and typically is a real poor investment.  

The ADU in many markets has a value less than the hands off cost of adding the ADU. In addition financing options are limited. Finally adding an ADU requires effort even when using a GC. So the ADU is typically a poor RE investment compared to other RE investment options.

I recommend you understand how an ADU will be valued in your market. In most markets they are value subtracts (I.e. add less value than they cost). You can search BP for threads about ADU appraisals. There are many ADU additions that got disappointing appraisals (and some that got appraisals that reflect the cost of adding the ADU).

Good luck

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Replied Jun 20 2022, 11:34
Quote from @Dan Heuschele:

Under ADU rules (not SB9) you can add 2 ADUs if you have multiple units. Your zoning does not allow you to have multiple units so you are limited to the primary residence, one ADU, and one JADU.

The JADU will require owner occupancy to rent and typically is a real poor investment.  

The ADU in many markets has a value less than the hands off cost of adding the ADU. In addition financing options are limited. Finally adding an ADU requires effort even when using a GC. So the ADU is typically a poor RE investment compared to other RE investment options.

I recommend you understand how an ADU will be valued in your market. In most markets they are value subtracts (I.e. add less value than they cost). You can search BP for threads about ADU appraisals. There are many ADU additions that got disappointing appraisals (and some that got appraisals that reflect the cost of adding the ADU).

Good luck

 I agree with you regarding ADUs. I wasn't going to put one myself. Well only if the price was right, which it usually isn't. I am marketing the property and want to let people know their options. I do believe though that one unit is still considered multifamily according to the county. That one unit could be condo, apartment, residential from what I am understanding. With one multifamily unit there or planned 2 ADUs could be allowed. Not sure why the current house does not qualify since residential appears to be one of the acceptable categories. What a dilemma!

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Dan Heuschele#4 General Real Estate Investing Contributor
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Dan Heuschele#4 General Real Estate Investing Contributor
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Replied Jun 20 2022, 15:44
Quote from @Steve Hungerford:
Quote from @Dan Heuschele:

Under ADU rules (not SB9) you can add 2 ADUs if you have multiple units. Your zoning does not allow you to have multiple units so you are limited to the primary residence, one ADU, and one JADU.

The JADU will require owner occupancy to rent and typically is a real poor investment.  

The ADU in many markets has a value less than the hands off cost of adding the ADU. In addition financing options are limited. Finally adding an ADU requires effort even when using a GC. So the ADU is typically a poor RE investment compared to other RE investment options.

I recommend you understand how an ADU will be valued in your market. In most markets they are value subtracts (I.e. add less value than they cost). You can search BP for threads about ADU appraisals. There are many ADU additions that got disappointing appraisals (and some that got appraisals that reflect the cost of adding the ADU).

Good luck

 I agree with you regarding ADUs. I wasn't going to put one myself. Well only if the price was right, which it usually isn't. I am marketing the property and want to let people know their options. I do believe though that one unit is still considered multifamily according to the county. That one unit could be condo, apartment, residential from what I am understanding. With one multifamily unit there or planned 2 ADUs could be allowed. Not sure why the current house does not qualify since residential appears to be one of the acceptable categories. What a dilemma!


 >I do believe though that one unit is still considered multifamily according to the county. That one unit could be condo, apartment, residential from what I am understanding

I do not agree.  There must be two units.  I got this from Greg Nickless at HCD.  Have you checked with HCD opinion?  Have you looked at the bill?  I am curious what is the source of your opinion.

My opinion is your property that has a single residence, and that is all that is permitted per zoning, can have a single ADU and a single JADU per ADU rules. SB9 opens up other possibilities.

Good luck

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Replied Jun 20 2022, 15:55
Quote from @Dan Heuschele:
Quote from @Steve Hungerford:
Quote from @Dan Heuschele:

Under ADU rules (not SB9) you can add 2 ADUs if you have multiple units. Your zoning does not allow you to have multiple units so you are limited to the primary residence, one ADU, and one JADU.

The JADU will require owner occupancy to rent and typically is a real poor investment.  

The ADU in many markets has a value less than the hands off cost of adding the ADU. In addition financing options are limited. Finally adding an ADU requires effort even when using a GC. So the ADU is typically a poor RE investment compared to other RE investment options.

I recommend you understand how an ADU will be valued in your market. In most markets they are value subtracts (I.e. add less value than they cost). You can search BP for threads about ADU appraisals. There are many ADU additions that got disappointing appraisals (and some that got appraisals that reflect the cost of adding the ADU).

Good luck

 I agree with you regarding ADUs. I wasn't going to put one myself. Well only if the price was right, which it usually isn't. I am marketing the property and want to let people know their options. I do believe though that one unit is still considered multifamily according to the county. That one unit could be condo, apartment, residential from what I am understanding. With one multifamily unit there or planned 2 ADUs could be allowed. Not sure why the current house does not qualify since residential appears to be one of the acceptable categories. What a dilemma!


 >I do believe though that one unit is still considered multifamily according to the county. That one unit could be condo, apartment, residential from what I am understanding

I do not agree.  There must be two units.  I got this from Greg Nickless at HCD.  Have you checked with HCD opinion?  Have you looked at the bill?  I am curious what is the source of your opinion.

My opinion is your property that has a single residence, and that is all that is permitted per zoning, can have a single ADU and a single JADU per ADU rules. SB9 opens up other possibilities.

Good luck

I don't understand, I have Residential Multifamily zoning 6, but you say that all that is permitted is a single family residence, per the zoning ? If so, why not call it single family residential in the zoning ? The county says an apartment, condo, etc. can go there. I guess since its just one its considered SFR still ?

You think SB9 applies to multifamily lots ? SB9 applies to single family residential as far as I can see when I read it ?

I got my information from reading the code, trips to the county, and documented via e-mails. However I don't doubt that I am wrong completely because I here a different story every time I ask so called professionals and people employed with the county.

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Dan Heuschele#4 General Real Estate Investing Contributor
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Replied Jun 20 2022, 16:13

It is my view that a property that is zoned to allow only a single unitc which is the case in your case, should qualify for SB9. Am I sure? No, but it makes sense because the intent of SB9 is to allow these SFR properties that are large enough to split and add housing. Your lot is big enough to be splitable per SB9 but too small to allow a second non-ADU unit per the zoning.

Note intent and reality do not always align.  I have not used SB9 and have only read the bill once or twice and not recently.  Check with an SB9 expert.

Good luck

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Replied Jun 20 2022, 16:44
Quote from @Dan Heuschele:

It is my view that a property that is zoned to allow only a single unitc which is the case in your case, should qualify for SB9. Am I sure? No, but it makes sense because the intent of SB9 is to allow these SFR properties that are large enough to split and add housing. Your lot is big enough to be splitable per SB9 but too small to allow a second non-ADU unit per the zoning.

Note intent and reality do not always align.  I have not used SB9 and have only read the bill once or twice and not recently.  Check with an SB9 expert.

Good luck


 I hope you are right. I asked the county and of course they take the opposite view. It seems if we want more housing and SB-9 was designed for it, the counties should be allowing it. No way they should be using multifamily zoning as a way to be more restrictive than residential. Multifamily should be allowing more than residential. I hope enough people take a stand and we get our property rights back.

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Brad Sand
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Brad Sand
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Replied Jun 20 2022, 16:46
Quote from @Dan Heuschele:

It is my view that a property that is zoned to allow only a single unitc which is the case in your case, should qualify for SB9. Am I sure? No, but it makes sense because the intent of SB9 is to allow these SFR properties that are large enough to split and add housing. Your lot is big enough to be splitable per SB9 but too small to allow a second non-ADU unit per the zoning.

Note intent and reality do not always align.  I have not used SB9 and have only read the bill once or twice and not recently.  Check with an SB9 expert.

Good luck

I think the problem is that @Steve Hungerford 's property is zoned for multi-family, but his particular parcel has been downgraded in the past, so it is now nonconforming to the current zoning. So, technically it is a multi-family zoned property, even though it doesn't qualify to build mf. I have read the bill previously and I think it is specifically for sfr zoned properties. Here is an SB9 quote I found from the CA Dept of Housing and Community Development Fact Sheet https://hcd.ca.gov/docs/planni...

The paragraph is titled: Single-Family Residential Zones Only and the quote is: "The parcel that will contain the proposed housing development or that will be subject to the lot split must be located in a single-family residential zone. Parcels located in multifamily residential, commercial, agricultural, mixed-use zones, etc., are not subject to SB 9 mandates even if they allow single-family residential uses as a permitted use."

That seems pretty clearly to disqualify the parcel from using SB 9. But, there are other Bills which do cover mf zones and they may allow what you want to promote. There is a bill which promotes increased density and some other ones which may be relative. You should research them, I can't remember the specifics.

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Replied Jun 20 2022, 16:58
Quote from @Brad Sand:
Quote from @Dan Heuschele:

It is my view that a property that is zoned to allow only a single unitc which is the case in your case, should qualify for SB9. Am I sure? No, but it makes sense because the intent of SB9 is to allow these SFR properties that are large enough to split and add housing. Your lot is big enough to be splitable per SB9 but too small to allow a second non-ADU unit per the zoning.

Note intent and reality do not always align.  I have not used SB9 and have only read the bill once or twice and not recently.  Check with an SB9 expert.

Good luck

I think the problem is that @Steve Hungerford 's property is zoned for multi-family, but his particular parcel has been downgraded in the past, so it is now nonconforming to the current zoning. So, technically it is a multi-family zoned property, even though it doesn't qualify to build mf. I have read the bill previously and I think it is specifically for sfr zoned properties. Here is an SB9 quote I found from the CA Dept of Housing and Community Development Fact Sheet https://hcd.ca.gov/docs/planni...

The paragraph is titled: Single-Family Residential Zones Only and the quote is: "The parcel that will contain the proposed housing development or that will be subject to the lot split must be located in a single-family residential zone. Parcels located in multifamily residential, commercial, agricultural, mixed-use zones, etc., are not subject to SB 9 mandates even if they allow single-family residential uses as a permitted use."

That seems pretty clearly to disqualify the parcel from using SB 9. But, there are other Bills which do cover mf zones and they may allow what you want to promote. There is a bill which promotes increased density and some other ones which may be relative. You should research them, I can't remember the specifics.

 The property was once zoned commercial. I believe in the 90's sometime it changed. Its next to commercial property. Then there are other properties close by with the same zoning and issues I assume. Depending on how big their lots are. Most of those houses are newer and off a main street so most likely not going to be a prospect for development and therefore not as affected by having RM-6 zoning. Right across the street is an older house with R1-6 zoning, which in this case more desirable zoning because of SB-9. Not sure what/why they chose this particular zoning but it makes little sense to me unless of course they want people to have to spend for re zoning.

Are these other Bills current ? Where would I find them ?

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Brad Sand
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Replied Jun 20 2022, 17:31
Quote from @Steve Hungerford:
Quote from @Brad Sand:
Quote from @Dan Heuschele:

It is my view that a property that is zoned to allow only a single unitc which is the case in your case, should qualify for SB9. Am I sure? No, but it makes sense because the intent of SB9 is to allow these SFR properties that are large enough to split and add housing. Your lot is big enough to be splitable per SB9 but too small to allow a second non-ADU unit per the zoning.

Note intent and reality do not always align.  I have not used SB9 and have only read the bill once or twice and not recently.  Check with an SB9 expert.

Good luck

I think the problem is that @Steve Hungerford 's property is zoned for multi-family, but his particular parcel has been downgraded in the past, so it is now nonconforming to the current zoning. So, technically it is a multi-family zoned property, even though it doesn't qualify to build mf. I have read the bill previously and I think it is specifically for sfr zoned properties. Here is an SB9 quote I found from the CA Dept of Housing and Community Development Fact Sheet https://hcd.ca.gov/docs/planni...

The paragraph is titled: Single-Family Residential Zones Only and the quote is: "The parcel that will contain the proposed housing development or that will be subject to the lot split must be located in a single-family residential zone. Parcels located in multifamily residential, commercial, agricultural, mixed-use zones, etc., are not subject to SB 9 mandates even if they allow single-family residential uses as a permitted use."

That seems pretty clearly to disqualify the parcel from using SB 9. But, there are other Bills which do cover mf zones and they may allow what you want to promote. There is a bill which promotes increased density and some other ones which may be relative. You should research them, I can't remember the specifics.

 The property was once zoned commercial. I believe in the 90's sometime it changed. Its next to commercial property. Then there are other properties close by with the same zoning and issues I assume. Depending on how big their lots are. Most of those houses are newer and off a main street so most likely not going to be a prospect for development and therefore not as affected by having RM-6 zoning. Right across the street is an older house with R1-6 zoning, which in this case more desirable zoning because of SB-9. Not sure what/why they chose this particular zoning but it makes little sense to me unless of course they want people to have to spend for re zoning.

Are these other Bills current ? Where would I find them ?

 @Steve Hungerford  Here ya go. I just found this official list of bills in the "Senate Housing Package." https://focus.senate.ca.gov/ho...

Look up SB 478, that sounds like it may be pertinent. Here is a quote directly from the bill "The bill would prohibit a local agency from denying a housing development project located on an existing legal parcel solely on the basis that the lot area of the proposed lot does not meet the local agency’s requirements for minimum lot size."

Now, while that sounds promising, it may not be that simple. Read the other parts of the bill to make sure. 

What county is it in?

Good luck and update us!

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Replied Jun 20 2022, 17:45
Quote from @Brad Sand:
Quote from @Steve Hungerford:
Quote from @Brad Sand:
Quote from @Dan Heuschele:

It is my view that a property that is zoned to allow only a single unitc which is the case in your case, should qualify for SB9. Am I sure? No, but it makes sense because the intent of SB9 is to allow these SFR properties that are large enough to split and add housing. Your lot is big enough to be splitable per SB9 but too small to allow a second non-ADU unit per the zoning.

Note intent and reality do not always align.  I have not used SB9 and have only read the bill once or twice and not recently.  Check with an SB9 expert.

Good luck

I think the problem is that @Steve Hungerford 's property is zoned for multi-family, but his particular parcel has been downgraded in the past, so it is now nonconforming to the current zoning. So, technically it is a multi-family zoned property, even though it doesn't qualify to build mf. I have read the bill previously and I think it is specifically for sfr zoned properties. Here is an SB9 quote I found from the CA Dept of Housing and Community Development Fact Sheet https://hcd.ca.gov/docs/planni...

The paragraph is titled: Single-Family Residential Zones Only and the quote is: "The parcel that will contain the proposed housing development or that will be subject to the lot split must be located in a single-family residential zone. Parcels located in multifamily residential, commercial, agricultural, mixed-use zones, etc., are not subject to SB 9 mandates even if they allow single-family residential uses as a permitted use."

That seems pretty clearly to disqualify the parcel from using SB 9. But, there are other Bills which do cover mf zones and they may allow what you want to promote. There is a bill which promotes increased density and some other ones which may be relative. You should research them, I can't remember the specifics.

 The property was once zoned commercial. I believe in the 90's sometime it changed. Its next to commercial property. Then there are other properties close by with the same zoning and issues I assume. Depending on how big their lots are. Most of those houses are newer and off a main street so most likely not going to be a prospect for development and therefore not as affected by having RM-6 zoning. Right across the street is an older house with R1-6 zoning, which in this case more desirable zoning because of SB-9. Not sure what/why they chose this particular zoning but it makes little sense to me unless of course they want people to have to spend for re zoning.

Are these other Bills current ? Where would I find them ?

 @Steve Hungerford  Here ya go. I just found this official list of bills in the "Senate Housing Package." https://focus.senate.ca.gov/ho...

Look up SB 478, that sounds like it may be pertinent. Here is a quote directly from the bill "The bill would prohibit a local agency from denying a housing development project located on an existing legal parcel solely on the basis that the lot area of the proposed lot does not meet the local agency’s requirements for minimum lot size."

Now, while that sounds promising, it may not be that simple. Read the other parts of the bill to make sure. 

What county is it in?

Good luck and update us!


 Thanks but not sure that is going to lead me anywhere. People please stop letting the politicians take over our country! Stand up, its apparent we have no property rights!

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Brad Sand
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Replied Jun 20 2022, 18:19
Quote from @Steve Hungerford:

 Thanks but not sure that is going to lead me anywhere. People please stop letting the politicians take over our country! Stand up, its apparent we have no property rights!


On the face of it, that bill sounds like it may help. There was also a "Housing Accountability Unit" that was established to enforce these new laws, in case the municipalities push back. I'd read the bill (SB 478) and see if it seems to help, and I'd call up Senator Wiener's office (this is his bill) and the Housing Accountability Unit, and get their opinions. Or, just mention this bill in your marketing and tell prospect buyers to do their own research.

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Replied Jun 20 2022, 18:43
Quote from @Brad Sand:
Quote from @Steve Hungerford:

 Thanks but not sure that is going to lead me anywhere. People please stop letting the politicians take over our country! Stand up, its apparent we have no property rights!


On the face of it, that bill sounds like it may help. There was also a "Housing Accountability Unit" that was established to enforce these new laws, in case the municipalities push back. I'd read the bill (SB 478) and see if it seems to help, and I'd call up Senator Wiener's office (this is his bill) and the Housing Accountability Unit, and get their opinions. Or, just mention this bill in your marketing and tell prospect buyers to do their own research.


 I see nothing in that bill that addresses the situation. I read quickly though and have no law school experience.

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Brad Sand
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Replied Jun 20 2022, 19:22
Quote from @Steve Hungerford:
Quote from @Brad Sand:
Quote from @Steve Hungerford:

 Thanks but not sure that is going to lead me anywhere. People please stop letting the politicians take over our country! Stand up, its apparent we have no property rights!


On the face of it, that bill sounds like it may help. There was also a "Housing Accountability Unit" that was established to enforce these new laws, in case the municipalities push back. I'd read the bill (SB 478) and see if it seems to help, and I'd call up Senator Wiener's office (this is his bill) and the Housing Accountability Unit, and get their opinions. Or, just mention this bill in your marketing and tell prospect buyers to do their own research.


 I see nothing in that bill that addresses the situation. I read quickly though and have no law school experience.

***********************************

 I am also not a lawyer, but, SB 478 seems to say that a city/municipality cannot deny a mf project, based solely on the city's minimum lot size requirement.

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Replied Jun 20 2022, 20:29
Quote from @Brad Sand:
Quote from @Steve Hungerford:
Quote from @Brad Sand:
Quote from @Steve Hungerford:

 Thanks but not sure that is going to lead me anywhere. People please stop letting the politicians take over our country! Stand up, its apparent we have no property rights!


On the face of it, that bill sounds like it may help. There was also a "Housing Accountability Unit" that was established to enforce these new laws, in case the municipalities push back. I'd read the bill (SB 478) and see if it seems to help, and I'd call up Senator Wiener's office (this is his bill) and the Housing Accountability Unit, and get their opinions. Or, just mention this bill in your marketing and tell prospect buyers to do their own research.


 I see nothing in that bill that addresses the situation. I read quickly though and have no law school experience.

***********************************

 I am also not a lawyer, but, SB 478 seems to say that a city/municipality cannot deny a mf project, based solely on the city's minimum lot size requirement.

 Thats interesting. The zoning is RM-6. So they allow one multifamily unit per 6,000 square feet. The lot is 10.550 for you can only put one unit or said another way, you can't do multifamily as I guess one unit does not count as a multifamily. In addition if you had a lesser dense zoning of residential, because of SB-9, you could even do more on the lot. So not only have they restricted the multifamily to not being allowed, they have taken away where residential would be more beneficial. Not sure if SB 478 applies since there is no minimum lot size requirement per se in the zoning.

All this when the lot used to be zoned commercial when bought and has commercial right next door. Talk about squeezing all potential out of a lot. All this when we need more housing in California desperately. Don't believe the rhetoric from the politicians, they are not focused on our needs.