SB 9 Laws in Pasadena

Samuel Schneider
January 7, 2022
minute read
SB 9 Laws in Pasadena

Pasadena Adopts Emergency Interim Ordinance on SB 9

Pasadena is a very desirable place to live, due to its close proximity to Los Angeles, suburban feel, and annual Rose Bowl football game. On December 13th 2021, Pasadena City Council approved an interim emergency ordinance on SB 9. The permanent ordinance won't be announced until early 2022, and may differ from the interim ordinance outlined below.

Senate Bill 9 is a groundbreaking new law that enables homeowners to subdivide their single-family property and build additional residential units on each lot. While many housing advocates support SB 9, some homeowners and local governments see it as a threat to single family neighborhoods and an overstep on the part of state government.  

Pasadena's Interim Emergency Ordinance on SB 9

As part of their interim ordinance, Pasadena is implementing the following objective development standards:

  • Prohibiting the construction of accessory dwelling units (ADUs) and junior accessory dwelling units ( JADUs) on projects seeking both a lot split AND duplex development. Note: The bill actually allows for the use of SB 9 along with the construction of ADUs, but gives cities the option to prevent it.
  • Limiting the size and height of SB 9 housing units to a maximum size of 800 square feet and 1 story height, respectively
  • Requiring at least one off-street parking space per unit (except where mandated under state law)
  • Requiring allocation of a percentage of the lot be devoted to landscaping to "ensure sufficient open space"
  • Prohibiting short-term rentals of SB 9 duplex units (which is already a provision of SB 9)

In addition to the aforementioned development standards, the ordinance also includes a broader range of implementation guidelines. These include:

  • Preventing the removal of protected and mature trees (and requiring the planting of new trees)
  • Creating and enforcing stricter owner-occupancy guidelines than those already included in SB 9

The Council is considering affordability requirements for SB 9 units, with proposals ranging from 20% to 100% of units reserved for lower income households. They also plan to investigate the potential for a "citywide historic overlay" in an apparent effort to classify all or most of Pasadena as "historic" and therefore exempt from development under SB 9.

Pasadena and SB 9: Past, Present, and Future

Pasadena is one of several cities around the state that has expressed hesitation or opposition regarding the new SB 9 law. In September 2021, the Mayor of Pasadena signed a letter urging Governor Newsom to veto SB 9.  Many City Councilmembers expressed their distaste for the proposed bill long before the California State Assembly passed it into law.

Because many Pasadena city officials have opposed SB 9 since its inception, it's not surprising that they've chosen to mitigate the effects of the bill with a strict local ordinance.

Again, the above standards are part of a temporary city ordinance regarding SB 9, and the permanent ordinance may differ. However, it is likely that many of the provisions will make their way into Pasadena's permanent implementation guidelines. As of January 10th 2022, Pasadena has voted to extend the urgency ordinance for the time being.

There is certainly a possibility of legal battles ahead for Pasadena and other cities that choose to place more restrictive requirements on SB 9 developments. As home prices continue to rise throughout California, every city and county has a responsibility to help reduce the affordable housing crisis.  If they choose to embrace it, Senate Bill 9 can help Pasadena do its part.