Emphasis has been placed on the ability of an SB 9 application to give a homeowner the ability to put 4 homes on his single-family zoned property. The biggest impact could be that SB 9 is forcing city governments to write down the criteria for allowing/disallowing construction.
SB 9 allows objective measurable criteria but tries to eliminate personal subjective opinions. Projects will have to be judged by uniform written standards rather than an ARB member’s personal preferences. This should truly help streamline projects.
The Turner Center at Cal Berkeley estimated 5.4% of the state’s 7.5 million single-family lots or about 410,000 parcels zoned for one traditional, single-family house could financially benefit from being able to add units.
Written criteria will benefit 100% of new construction projects. Written criteria could even give city residents more say over new construction. Residents could band together to get poor criteria changed since it is now written down and visible to all.
I have a recent example I personally took part in of how written criteria could help. The JLee Realty office building was in need of repair, including the roof. We took a look at the surrounding buildings and what was popular with new construction and decided that a red roof with grey walls would be a good choice. Because the repairs would cost so much the Palo Alto planning office said the repairs would have to be approved by the Architectural Review Board.
An aerial view of the property and nearby buildings shows that most of the buildings along El Camino Real have flat white roofs. The majority of the roofs that are not flat, and thus visible from street level, are either red or terra cotta.
We chose to have a roof the same color as “America’s Best Value Inn Sky Ranch” which is the fourth building to the northwest. The large Crowne Plaza Hotel adjacent to JLee Realty also has a red roof. An ARB board member said that a red roof would not be compatible with the neighborhood. We asked if they wanted a white roof. They said no. During the two years the ARB reviewed our repair plans they never said what color of roof would be compatible. JLee Realty now has the only light grey roof visible on El Camino Real (that isn’t flat). It took two years to get a permit to repair our roof.