SB 684 — Building Homeownership
SB 684 will create new pathways to homeownership for middle-income Californians and communities of color by making it faster and easier to build smaller, more naturally-affordable homes near jobs, schools, transit, and other amenities. The bill streamlines approvals for “starter” homes in infill developments of 10 homes or less in multi-family zones, and on vacant lots in single-family zones.
Most Californians share the American dream of homeownership, which provides housing security and the opportunity to build long-term financial stability. But the severe housing shortage has put home ownership out of reach for millions of Californians who earn moderate incomes.
In 2020, the average sale price of a home in California was 8.5 times the median household income. As a result, fewer than 55% of Californians live in homes they or their families own – the second lowest rate of homeownership in the U.S.
BIPOC communities fare even worse. African American homeownership rates are 26% lower and Latino homeownership rates are 19% lower than white Californians – and the homeownership gap has created a growing wealth gap: Black and Latino households have just a fraction of the personal assets held by the average white household.
For decades, redlining – the practice of intentionally denying mortgages to people of color – prevented non-white families from buying homes in certain neighborhoods. Local policies in many communities continue the legacy of this racist housing practice by prohibiting smaller housing options that more working-class and communities of color can afford, like condos and townhomes.
SB 684 will create new pathways to homeownership for middle-income Californians by making it faster and easier to build smaller, more naturally-affordable “starter” homes near jobs, schools, transit, and other amenities. The bill streamlines approvals for homes in infill developments of 10 homes or less, in multi-family zones, and on vacant lots in single-family zones.
The bill will also amend the Subdivision Map Act, the California law that regulates the creation and improvement of subdivisions and lot splits, to make it faster and easier to build more housing on a single parcel of land, which will create more affordable, entry-level homes.
Projects that receive streamlining under SB 684 will still be required to protect existing housing that is designated for low-income tenants; is rent-controlled; or has been occupied by renters in the last 10 years. They will further be subject to existing environmental and other sustainability standards and be required to comply with local affordability, setback, and height standards.
Together these changes will make small homes – often built by local, “mom and pop” builders – faster, easier, and less expensive to build, increasing affordable homeownership opportunities in our cities for middle-income Californians like teachers, first responders, and nurses.
Updates: SB 684 passed the State Senate on 5/24/23 by a 33-0 vote. It will now go to the Assembly for consideration.
Author: Caballero (D, SD 14)
Co-sponsors: California YIMBY, California Community Builders
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