Tue, Nov

Is It Time To Sell Your Single-Family House In California?


HOUSING WATCH - New laws that took effect on January 1 end single-family home zoning in California.

The laws don’t outlaw single-family homes, but they make it so attractive to redevelop properties at higher densities that the integrity of single-family neighborhoods is likely to be lost as four and sixplexes pop up in their place. 

Four and sixplexes? That’s right. And, in many cases, 10–12 units of multi-story housing. Right on single-family parcels, perhaps right next door to you. 

What does it mean? Big change could be coming to your neighborhood. If you own a home, the question now becomes: “Is it time to sell your single-family house in California?” 

To help you answer that question, a new book explains what every homeowner should know about the end of single-family zoning in California and the potential impacts of the new laws on people, home values and neighborhoods. Homeowners who read the book will learn: 

  • What developers are now allowed to build in single-family neighborhoods
  • What you can do to stop them
  • What local governments can (and cannot) do in response
  • Which communities offer the highest level of protection from redevelopment
  • How you can cash in — if you decide to — by selling your house to an investor or redeveloping the property yourself 

The book also illuminates how the laws can be exploited to destroy historic resources and produce dense housing on hillsides, in canyons and in lakeshore and coastal towns, including high-risk fire zones. Investors and developers who read the book will learn: 

  • How much density they can build now on single-family lots
  • What they can build with no approvals, and what they need clearance to build
  • Changes affecting the demolition of historic properties
  • Changes affecting the development of hillsides, canyons and coastal areas
  • Whether it’s necessary to include any affordable units in the new buildings, or pay any impact fees in order to develop single-family properties at higher densities 

The book, “The End of Single-Family Zoning in California: How to Protect Yourself and Profit from Permissive New Upzoning Laws,” reflects on my experience as a community advocate, neighborhood council member in Los Angeles, and real estate expert. The book is free to download at TheEndofZoning.com

The book explains the new California laws SB 9 and SB 10. The laws allow multi-unit and multi-story buildings on single-family lots across California. SB 9, which overrides local control of zoning, is particularly controversial. A majority of Californians opposed the law, as did hundreds of California cities. The left-leaning Los Angeles City Council also objected. So did right-leaning Fox News host Tucker Carlson

Sell your house now or stay in the neighborhood? It’s a personal decision only you can make. Get familiar with the new laws and decide for yourself.


(Cary Brazeman is a former executive with CBRE, the real estate and investment services firm, and is a supporter of the National Low Income Housing Coalition and the Planning and Conservation League. He’s a former chair of the Planning and Land Use Committee of Mid City West Community Council, a certified neighborhood council in Los Angeles.)