The Homework Newsletter

The HomeWork: December 17, 2020

December 18, 2020

Welcome to the December 17, 2020 Main edition of The HomeWork, the official newsletter of California YIMBY — legislative updates, news clips, housing research and analysis, and the latest writings from the California YIMBY team.

News from Sacramento

December 7th was the swearing in day for the Legislature, and many members introduced their first bills, including some housing bills. It’s not the wave of bills we saw last year, but several themes are already clear.
The Senate has reintroduced much of its housing package from the 2020 session, including SB 9, the duplex bill formerly known as SB 1120, and SB 10, Senator Wiener’s quick rezone bill formerly known as SB 902. California YIMBY is a proud sponsor of SB 10. Assemblymember Chiu’s AB 15, which would extend AB 3088 tenant protections, will be a clear focus for the Assembly as they figure out how best to protect tenants struggling with COVID-19.
In the meantime, if you have an idea for a YIMBY law, please reach out to Louis Mirante at

Housing Research and Analysis

The Impact of Minimums: A Little, or a Lot?

A new working paper analyzes an oft-forgotten aspect of land-use policy: The impact on affordability of minimum lot sizes, which cities use to set the smallest allowable square footage for individual parcels of land. This seemingly minor detail can have a huge impact on spatial segregation and economic inequality, as Amrita Kulka of the University of Wisconsin-Madison finds.
Kulka (2020) poses a simple yet powerful hypothesis: “By imposing different housing consumption floors across neighborhoods, minimum lot sizes can potentially distort the location decisions of households.”
Key findings:
  1. Higher minimum lot sizes result in higher-income neighborhoods. Specifically, data from Wake County, NC showed that “a decrease in the allowed density by one dwelling unit per acre implies an increase in average neighborhood income by 4.5%”
  2. Neighborhoods that mandate larger lots also see higher house prices. On average, the study finds “lots are 19% larger and houses 7.5% more expensive on the more regulated side of a minimum lot size boundary.”
  3. Big lots are themselves a luxury amenity. By modeling households’ neighborhood choices, the paper estimates that relaxed minimum lot standards (allowing more homes per acre) would open up high-amenity neighborhoods to middle class residents.


Why Do Homeowners Choose to Build ADUs?

Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) have been touted as a secret weapon that could make a big dent in California’s housing shortage. As regulators work to promote them, we must continue to investigate: what conditions actually lead to more ADU construction? A new working paper from Sarah Thomaz, a PhD candidate in Economics at UC Irvine, sheds some light on this mystery.
The key takeaways:
  1. In Los Angeles, parcels with higher land value and larger homes (though not necessarily on larger lots) saw more ADU construction.
  2. Adding an ADU increases the value of a property by about 50%.
  3. Proximity to amenities such as public transit are strong predictors of homeowners choosing to embark on future ADU construction.


Houser Headlines

YIMBY Social – Top Posts

Tweet from California YIMBY: "Meet Gabriella. She works hard, but still struggles iwth theh igh cost of housing."

A new animated video released early last week by California YIMBY explains the cause of the state’s housing shortage and affordability crisis, and sounds a call for Californians across the state to join the YIMBY movement to legalize housing in the state’s cities.

The video, which focuses on a fictional nurse named Gabriella, explains the history of how California’s cities engaged in racist “redlining” and subsequently made it illegal to build multi-family housing in most neighborhoods across the state.

Watch Now »

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