Encinitas Adopts Urgency Ordinance on SB 9
Encinitas was one of the first cities to pass an urgency ordinance on Senate Bill 9 (SB 9). The new law empowers homeowners to subdivide their single-family residential property and built two new units on each lot.
The ordinance was passed on December 15th, 2021 and will expire after 45 days (on January 29th, 2022). The City Council may, however, choose to extend it. Senate Bill 9 went into effect statewide on January 1st, 2022 and Encinitas’s urgency ordinance is effective immediately.
For a fun visual guide to the urgency ordinance, check out our SB 9 City Guide for Encinitas! You can read relevant SB 9-related news articles and compare implementation in other cities in San Diego County.
Encinitas’s Interim Ordinance on SB 9
Many of SB 9’s provisions are mandatory for all cities, including an owner occupancy requirement for all lot splits. In addition to these requirements and restrictions, Senate Bill 9 allows cities to adopt objective standards for development and design.
The state law sets restraints and conditions for some of these, and leaves others up to the discretion of local governments. This allows cities to maintain a certain amount of influence, as long as local ordinances do not violate any provisions of the state law.
Encinitas’s urgency ordinance is generally very similar to the original text of the state law. However, there are a couple of key points in the ordinance that differ from the state law as written. Most of these differences allow for further freedom of development, not less.
Congruent with SB 9
Senate Bill 9 suggests a number of guidelines that cities may elect to adopt. Encinitas City Council chose to include many of these recommendations in their interim ordinance, including:
- Minimum setbacks of four feet from side and rear lot lines. State law stipulates that exceptions must be made for new constructions in the same footprint of an existing nonconforming structure.
- One off-street parking spot is required per unit. Exceptions must be made for properties within half a mile’s walk of a “high-quality transit corridor” or a major transit stop. Properties within one block of a car share vehicle are also exempt from the parking requirement.
- Any lot resulting from an SB 9 urban lot split must adjoin or provide access to a public right-of-way (street).
- Urban Lot Splits are prohibited on properties included on the State Historic Resources Inventory or the National Register
None of the above provisions are particularly limiting, nor do they violate the objectives of Senate Bill 9.
Different from SB 9
Encinitas chose to include a few provisions in their local law that differ from the those outlined in the state law. These include:
- Up to 2 ADUs may be built on any lot (including both parcels created via an SB 9 lot split). This allows for a total of up to 4 housing units per lot
- If minimum setback for the zoning district is less than four feet, SB 9 developments may choose the smaller setback
- New units with a setback of less than four feet are restricted to a maximum height of 16 feet
The Encinitas ordinance is rather exceptional for allowing up to four residential units per lot. Many cities with more restrictive ordinances placed a limit of only two structures per parcel. Some cities have also banned the construction of ADUs and JADUs (junior accessory dwelling units) for SB 9 projects.
The Future of SB 9 in Encinitas
Because Encinitas’s urgency ordinance on SB 9 is temporary, it is possible that the permanent ordinance may differ. However, it is very likely that the permanent ordinance will closely resemble this iteration.
By embracing Senate Bill 9, Encinitas is allowing for more housing to be built, which will in turn help to alleviate the housing crisis and make home ownership more accessible. We applaud the City of Encinitas for making SB 9 feasible and achievable for its residents, and hope that many other cities across California will follow their lead.
To learn about SB 9 implementation in other cities, check out Homestead's SB 9 City Guides!