Bill to allow more homes in neighborhoods dies

Daily Post Staff Writer

A controversial housing bill that would have allowed more homes to be packed into single-family neighborhoods has fizzled out, not because of massive opposition, but because the clock ran out.

Monday, Aug. 31, was the last day for the Legislature to send “one-year bills” to the governor’s desk, such as SB1120, proposed by Sen. Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, the pro tempore of the Senate. Some bills last two years in the Legislature before they expire, but many are like SB1120 that die after one year.

With three minutes to spare, the state Assembly passed SB1120, which would force cities to approve the division of parcels in a single-family residential zone into two lots of equal size. Each lot could then contain two units, either a duplex or a main residence plus an accessory dwelling unit, or ADU.

It would have been a way to increase the housing supply.

The Assembly voted 44-18 to pass the bill, but it needed final approval from the Senate before heading to Newsom’s desk.

Local Assemblymen Marc Berman, D-Menlo Park, and Kevin Mullin, D-San Mateo both voted in favor of the bill.

Although the Senate did not vote on the final bill before the deadline, state Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, had voted in favor of an earlier version of the bill when it appeared in front of the Senate on June 24.

Under SB1120, the maximum number of units that could go on a lot would be four. Lot splits could still be prohibited in some cases, such as for properties in a historic district. The bill has provisions to prevent renters from being forced out.

But some Assembly members were not convinced by the prohibitions.

Assemblywoman Sydney Kamlager, D-Culver City, said that the bill would set up an invasion into small communities by developers and speculators. She added that the invasion would be set forth because state lawmakers are too lazy to have conversations about protecting communities and preventing displacement.

Assemblyman Adrin Nazarian, D-Van Nuys, said that there are over 10,000 homes in the San Fernando Valley that are owned by venture capital companies, and if they could subdivide those 10,000 homes, traffic congestion and overall impact on the region would be substantial.

Meanwhile, Assemblywoman Buffy Wicks, D-Oakland — in an appearance that’s now gone viral because she appeared on the Assembly floor with her month-old daughter because she was not eligible to appear by proxy — pointed out that the state is 3.5 million homes behind where it needs to be, and asserted that adding duplexes maintains community character.

Assemblyman Robert Rivas, D-Salinas said that if just 5% of those eligible to build a duplex did so, it would create 600,000 new homes in the state.
The bill was the remaining major bill from a package of housing bills that were borne out of the failure of SB50 in January. SB50 was a controversial bill that would have increased housing density in areas near mass transit or jobs.

Livable California, an activist group, rejoiced in a message sent to supporters yesterday. “In the end, this bill died because the authors did not write a serious bill with serious ideas in it,” their email said, saying they will take the technicality of the bill not passing as a win.

Brian Hanlon, head of California YIMBY, told the LA Times that he expects to see the bill come back next year.


  1. Wicks is just lying. The 3.5M number was discredited well before the pandemic, even the Governor doesn’t quote it any more.

  2. Actually the 3.5 million number is what Gavin promised in his campaign two years ago. His plans haven’t worked out, so of course he’s walking away from the number.

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