The Homework Newsletter

The HomeWork: October 28, 2022

October 28, 2022

Welcome to the October 28, 2022 Capital 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

The legislature has adjourned and will return in December for a special session to consider a windfall tax on oil companies. Their regular session will commence in January 2023. During the fall and early winter, California YIMBY will formulate our legislative priorities for the next session – be sure to check back for updates, and get out and Vote on November 8!

For a full list of our endorsed legislative candidates this year, visit

Housing Research & Analysis

“Not in Your Back Yard:” How Tort Law Gave Birth to NIMBYism

In a 2021 Harvard Law Review paper, Maureen Brady explores the early history of exclusionary zoning and prohibitions on multifamily housing as they evolved from 19th century private tort law and “nuisance covenants” that were inserted into property deeds in growing US cities.

Although legal scholars typically point to Euclid v. Ambler (1926) as the enshrinement of exclusionary zoning, Brady finds its roots “not within constitutional jurisprudence, nor within natural law or political theory, but rather deep within private law, at the intersection of property, contract, and tort.”

Key takeaways:

  1. Modern land use and zoning laws in the US trace their origins to covenants – restrictions in property deeds – to restrict the use of neighboring properties.
  2. As apartment construction accelerated in cities, landowners used covenant law unsuccessfully to exclude multifamily housing before turning to public law.
  3. The origin of zoning restrictions in private tort and deed restrictions may help explain why exclusionary zoning has proven politically popular among wealthy property owners.

SB Nein? How Cities Cheat on Housing Reform

A new analysis by David Garcia and Muhammad Alameldin (California YIMBY alumni) at the UC Berkeley Terner Center for Housing Innovation unpacks the challenges arising from local implementation of Senate Bill 9, California’s landmark housing bill that ended single-unit-only zoning and legalized duplexes throughout the state.

Key takeaways:

  1. While SB 9 permits duplexes and lot splits on most single-family parcels, cities and counties still have broad leeway to impose additional standards that can limit feasibility for housing production. As the authors observe, “no two [local] ordinances were alike.”
  2. In the paper’s 10 case study jurisdictions, local governments imposed widely varying requirements, including standards for parking, open space, and easements that may render many SB 9 units infeasible.
  3. In addition to clarifying legislation at the state level, the Terner Center recommends that cities learn from successful ADU programs by providing technical assistance, pre-approved design plans, and even construction financing.

Houser Headlines

YIMBY Social – Top Posts

Beyond Zoning: Building Circulation Reform and Infill Housing | UCLA Lewis Center

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