December 15, 2021

SV@Home and San Jose Neighborhoods for All Win Important Victory on SB 9 in San Jose!


San Jose’s City Council has demonstrated important leadership, embracing SB 9 in ways that take full advantage of the opportunities the law presents for meeting the broad range of local housing needs. An enormous thank you to all our dedicated Housers who took the time to let the council know how important this is to you- collectively we sent more than 970 letters to council offices


Last night, the San Jose city council directed staff to:

  • Explore existing resources, and additional programs or policies that could incentivize the inclusion of more affordability within SB 9 projects,
  • Explore opportunities such as education workshops, technical support, and coordination with Community Development Financial Institutions and lenders to make construction of SB 9 homes more accessible, equitable, and feasible,
  • Facilitate a robust and inclusive citywide community outreach effort when developing SB 9’s design standards, and
  • Explore extending SB 9 to R2 zoned neighborhoods where duplexes are already allowed, and to historic districts where existing design guidelines help protect historic homes.


Special thanks to Councilmembers Peralez, Jimenez, Cohen, and Esparza for their memo advancing the first three priorities, and to Mayor Liccardo for his memo advancing the last. 

SV@Home is part of the San Jose Neighborhoods for All coalition, formed in support of Opportunity Housing, to begin to remove barriers to building a community of inclusion where everyone can live, work and thrive. With the passage of SB 9 at the state level we made the decision to focus our collective energy on successful implementation of the State law, and to advocate for a separate study of incentives and subsidies that would expand affordability. We believe this is a tremendous opportunity for San Jose and communities throughout the state. This has been quite a roller coaster ride over the last two years, and there will be significant discussions ahead, but San Jose enters this next stage with a solid commitment to expanding access, feasibility and opportunity.

SB 9, which goes into effect Jan. 1, allows property owners to split a single-family lot and add a second home or divide the lot into two and place duplexes on each. The state law outlines mandatory design standards such as minimum rear and side setbacks but allows individual jurisdictions to adopt additional design standards that go beyond the state’s requirements. In the short term, city staff will need to have systems in place to process applications, and the council adopted an urgency ordinance that prepares for the new state law using much of the city’s existing single-family home design guidelines and limits the number of new units allowed on a single-family property to four.

Some cities in our region have adopted urgency ordinances explicitly intended to create barriers to SB 9’s feasibility, many of which are under legal scrutiny and may be constrained by future state legislation. In contrast, San Jose has focused on clarity and rejected onerous barriers. SV@Home congratulates San Jose for taking full advantage of the historic opportunity SB 9 offers.