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SB-9 in Oakland

Blacked out areas denote commercial zoning and park areas. Remaining low density residential zones are represented by color areas.

Black and red areas showing zones excluded from SB-9. This leaves approximately 20% of low density zones where SB-9 is applicable, with less than half of these in high income neighborhoods. This is a convenient way to block density and affordability, which are often a threat to political viability.

About SB 9:

  • The SB-9 Bill was created to combat California’s massive shortage of middle-income housing, and solve for the lack of multi-family housing developments near jobs and accessible transit.

    • California’s housing shortage is propelling the displacement and severe rent burden of residents across the state, making it extremely challenging for people to own homes and pay rent.

    • The SB-9 bill was created to legalize middle-income housing, increase jobs in the construction sector, and build more homes throughout the state.

  • SB-9 allows homeowners to divide their property into two lots, permitting two homes to be built on each lot, with the goal of legalizing fourplexes in areas that previously only allowed one home.

  • With the addition of fourplexes and multi-family units, housing options increase while the demand for homes decrease, allowing for housing costs to come down.

About our study:

  • Baran Studio has pioneered a study showing how Oakland, like many other Bay Area cities, are preventing state mandated increases in density. The studies have been translated into maps of the areas where density is permitted, which is very limited and typically lower income.

  • Cities across the Bay Area are finding a way to circumvent the regulations outlined in the bill.

    • Many have accomplished this by stating that the law only applies where zoning limits each lot to one single family home. In Oakland, the zones they are excluding allow more than one home, but it is typically only if the lot is over 4,000 square feet, and most lots are less than that. That means the excluded neighborhoods are still very low density, and this is where the law is intended to apply.

    • Most low density neighborhoods that are blocking development are historically middle / upper class, white and high income.

    • Essentially, high density development will be forced into lower income neighborhoods. In addition, they have stated that the law cannot apply in a fire zone, which eliminates around half of the zones that should be under consideration.

    • By limiting these projects from being developed, city officials across the Bay Area are continuing to harm housing costs and drive up the prices for everyone, especially for those who cannot afford it.

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