Editorial: Turns out Los Angeles voters do want denser housing in single-family neighborhoods

Dec 5, 2021

The idea of owning a house with a backyard has long been part of the “California dream.” But the California reality for most people is renting an apartment or house they can barely afford.

Affordable housing is scarce, and most residential land in California — and in the United States, in general — is zoned for single-family residences. That’s certainly the case across Los Angeles County, where million-dollar houses abound and the median price of a home is $795,000. That’s more like a California nightmare for people trying to find a reasonably priced home to buy or rent. And the predicament is drastically worse for the roughly 66,000 homeless people in the County of Los Angeles who don’t have anything approximating a home with walls and a door.

In an effort to spur more desperately needed housing, the California Legislature this year finally passed two smart and reasonable bills — Senate Bills 9 and 10 — that will allow a modicum of increased density. Gov. Gavin Newsom signed them into law in September and they take effect on Jan. 1. SB 9 allows up to four units of housing on a single-family lot. SB 10 would allow — but not mandate — a local government to rezone land, including single-family lots, to allow a building of 10 units or less. The property would have to be urban infill or near public transit.

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