Senate Advances Atkins Bill to Add Housing by Encouraging Small-Scale Neighborhood Development

May 28, 2020

SACRAMENTO – The Senate Governance and Finance Committee today approved SB 1120 by Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego), legislation that will help ease California’s affordable housing crisis by streamlining the process for a homeowner to create a duplex or subdivide an existing lot in all residential areas.

“SB 1120 is a good way to help meet California’s affordable housing goals while respecting local flexibility,” Atkins said. “SB 1120 makes small-scale infill development more achievable, and it helps build equity for individual homeowners, not large-scale corporations. SB 1120 also builds on our incredibly successful approach to Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), which has led to a quadrupling of applications for ADUs in most metropolitan areas since we changed the law for these units.”

SB 1120 automatically allows property owners to create duplexes and subdivide their property in single-family home neighborhoods statewide, as long as housing created by these changes continues to meet existing community standards and protections. According to the McKinsey Global Institute, nearly 800,000 units could be developed by adding units to existing single-family housing. Per their projections, an additional 600,000 units could be developed in just three counties alone by building housing on small lots near existing residential development.

The bill respects the priorities of local governments and land use decisions. In order to access the provisions of the bill, homeowners must first meet a specific list of qualifications that ensure protection of local zoning and design standards, historic districts, environmental quality, and existing tenants vulnerable to displacement.

“My colleagues and I are committed to developing a comprehensive approach to housing production this year,” Atkins said. “COVID-19 and the economic downturn has meant we’ve had to pivot on some of our approaches and get more creative in finding solutions. By letting homeowners add small-scale neighborhood housing while following local protections, SB 1120 provides an important tool to aid in those efforts.”

SB 1120 is part of the Senate package of housing bills to spur affordable housing production and aid California’s economic recovery due to the COVID-19 crisis. The package is the product of four months of work by a group of lead Democratic Senators designated by Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego) including Senators Mike McGuire (D-Healdsburg), Anna M. Caballero (D-Salinas), María Elena Durazo (D-Los Angeles), Lena A. Gonzalez (D-Long Beach), Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo), Richard D. Roth (D-Riverside), and Susan Rubio (D-Baldwin Park). The package also builds on a foundation of work by Senate Housing Committee Chair, Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco).

SB 1120 now goes to the Senate Appropriations Committee.




Toni G. Atkins is President pro Tempore of the California Senate. Having previously served as Speaker of the California Assembly, she began her tenure in the Senate in 2016. As Senator for District 39, she represents the cities of San Diego, Coronado, Del Mar and Solana Beach. Website of President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins: