Senate Bill 9 (SB9) Development Options

SB 9 makes two changes to State law:

  • It allows homeowners in most areas around the state (those zoned for single-family) to divide their property into two lots, thereby increasing opportunities for homeownership in their neighborhood; and
  • It allows two homes to be built on each of those lots, with the effect of allowing four homes in areas that previously only allowed one home.

What is Senate Bill 9 (SB9)?

Is my project eligible for the SB9 Application Process?

How many housing units are allowed for SB9 projects?

What are Objective Standards?

What is the SB9 Application Process?

Step-by-Step Application Directions and Required Forms

What is Senate Bill 9 (SB9)?

In 2021, Governor Newsom signed into law Senate Bill 9 (SB9) to further address California’s housing shortage. SB9 went into effect January 1, 2022. This law establishes a streamlined process to develop two primary residential dwelling units on one eligible single-family zoned parcel, and to split one eligible single-family zoned parcel into two separate parcels of approximately equal size. SB9 also provides more flexible property setbacks and parking standards and extends subdivision approval expirations for eligible parcels.

Is my project eligible for the SB9 Application Process?

In order to be eligible for the streamlining provided by the bill, a parcel must meet specific criteria. The table below provides a general overview of the eligibility criteria, while the SB9 Eligibility Checklist specifies the criteria in detail. Prior to submitting an SB9 Application, an Eligibility and Objective Standards Pre-Screen with County Planning staff is strongly recommended to confirm that your project is consistent with the eligibility criteria required by State law. If eligible, the County will also review the proposed project (land division or new construction) to ensure the preliminary design is consistent with objective standards. Additional information and/or revisions to your project may be required to ensure it is consistent with objective standards.

Use the Santa Cruz County GISWeb to access the information cited in the table below.


Single-Family Zone within Urban Area

The parcel must be zoned for single-family residential use, which includes the following zone districts: R-1, RA, RB, and RR. Parcels within the SU zone district are not eligble for SB9 projects. The parcel must also be wholly within a Census-designated urban area.(GISWeb Legend: Zoning; Jurisdictional, Elections, Census)

Not Within Protected Resource Areas

The project site cannot be in a conservation area or hazardous waste site, and cannot contain protected species habitat, designated historic resources, prime farmland, farmland of statewide importance, wetlands, or conservation easements. Project in hazard areas may be permitted if it mitigates hazard(s) and meets Building Code standards.(GISWeb Legend: Biotic and Water Resources; Hazards and Geophysical; Land Use)

Consistent with Objective Standards

The project must be consistent with objective zoning, subdivision, and design review standards. (See List of Objective Standards.)

Demolition Restrictions

The project cannot involve demolition of affordable housing or any housing occupied by a tenant, and cannot involve demolition of more than 25% of the exterior structural walls of any structure occupied by a tenant in the last three years.

Long Term Rental Requirement

If the project creates a rental unit, it must be a long term rental (>30 days).

SB9 Land Divisions and Owner Occupancy

Parcels are not eligible for an SB9 land division if they were created by an SB9 urban lot split. Property owners are also required to occupy one of the lots as their primary residence for a minimum of three years.

Sewer & Septic

The parcels must be served by sewer, or if units are connected to an Onsite Wastewater Treatment System (OWTS), the OWTS must meet or be upgraded to meet current standards in compliance with County Code Chapter 7.38.

SEPTIC NOTE FOR LOT SPLITS: Per the County sewage ordinance, a lot split relying on an Onsite Wastewater Treatment System (i.e. not served by sewer) cannot result in creation of a parcel less than 1 acre without individual project approval from the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board.

These are general guidelines. Please refer to Gov. Code §65852.21 and §66411.7 and review the SB9 Eligibility Checklist for detailed eligibility information.

How many housing units are allowed for SB 9 projects?

SB9 allows for up to four units per eligible single-family zoned parcel, in the following combinations:

SB9 Development Options Illustration

What are Objective Standards?

Objective standards are standards that involve no personal or subjective judgment by a public official. For example, a building height limit of 28 feet is an objective standard. In comparison, a requirement that a building blend appropriately with the neighborhood character is a subjective standard. The County's objective zoning standards guide details the zoning standards found in the County Code and General Plan/Local Coastal Program that will apply to your project.

What is the SB9 Application Process?

Click on the flowchart to expand or print it and review the detailed steps and required application forms in the next section.


Step-by-Step Application Directions and Required Forms

STEP 1: Eligibility & Objective Standards Pre-Screen (Optional)

Prior to submitting an SB9 application, an Eligibility and Objective Standards Pre-Screen with County Planning staff is strongly recommended to confirm that your project is consistent with the eligibility criteria required by State law. The Pre-Screen service costs $349 plus the General Plan and Technology Fee.

If determined to be eligible for the SB9 process, the County will also review the proposed project (land division and/or new construction) to ensure the preliminary design is consistent with County zoning objective standards. Additional information and/or revisions to your project may be required to determine whether the project is consistent with all SB9 submittal requirements and objective standards.

Projects obtaining an Eligibility and Objective Standards Pre-Screen completed by County Planning staff will help insure that your project is correctly prepared for submittal. SELF-CERTIFIED APPLICATIONS ARE MADE AT THE APPLICANT’S OWN RISK. If a proposed project does meet state eligibility standards, project review fees will not be refunded, and additional fees may apply. See the SB9 Application Process Flowchart for more details.

For Eligibility and Objective Standards Pre-Screen applications, please submit through ePlan Review.

(1) The first step is to create an ePlan Review account, if you do not already have one. Once you have an account, create a Discretionary project within your account.

(2) Next, complete the Discretionary Intake Request Form and email it to: Staff will review your form and assign you an intake appointment date.

(3) On the day of your intake appointment, upload the following to your account:

  •    A completed SB9 Pre-screen Application.
  •    PDF(s) of your project's preliminary plan to scale, and showing at a minimum: all dimensions, proposed setbacks, existing and proposed structures, and access.
  •    For some sites, additional studies may be required to determine SB9 eligibility, e.g., a biotic pre-site, geologic hazards assessment. If additional studies are required, planning staff will notify you.  Additional fees will apply for these reviews in accordance with the adopted Fee Schedule.
  •    Any additional information you wish to submit demonstrating your project's conformance with eligibility requirements.

A planner will review your application and contact you for payment online.

STEP 2: Submit Application(s)

All SB9 projects must be submitted through ePlan Review as a building permit. Use the ePlan Submittal Checklist (PLG-230) to insure that your files are correctly organized and formatted. Video tutorials and an ePlan User Guide are available on the ePlan Review webpage under "Info & Help."

Use the following forms and checklists:

For Housing Development Projects

For SB9 Land Division Projects

For Projects that Include Both Housing Development AND an SB9 Land Division

If your project includes both housing development and a land division, two separate applications for each component of the project will be required. Both permit applications may be processed concurrently; however, Parcel Map recordation will be required before a building permit can be issued on parcels created by the land division. A building permit could, however, be issued prior to the lot split for units as allowed on the original parcel, where these would conform to all objective standards for the subsequent land division. Applications for SB9 lot splits cannot be approved where the owner cannot be shown to reside on the parcel. If not existing dwelling exists, or an existing dwelling will be demolished, a new dwelling will need to be constructed, subject to a building permit, and the dwelling must be occupied prior to approval of any SB9 land division application.

STEP 3: Application Review

Your application will be reviewed by staff for consistency with SB9 and County objective standards, in addition to the objective standards applied to all building permit applications and all health and safety standards. 

Processing times may vary depending on the nature and complexity of the project and completeness of the documents submitted. SB9 applications that are incomplete or do not qualify for SB9 will delay approval of your project and may incur additional costs.

STEP 4: Building Permit and/or Parcel Map Recorded

For Housing Developments, once the building permit(s) is/are issued, construction may begin. For SB9 Land Divisions, once the Tentative Map is approved, the map recordation process to record the Parcel Map may begin. For information on recording a Parcel Map, please contact the County Surveyor at (831) 454-2160

From the county website:


How Do I Submit an Application for a SB 9 Lot Split and/or Housing Development?

First you'll want to review the qualifying criteria below to confirm that the project meets all of the requirements. If you have questions, feel free to:

  • Visit In-Person: speak with a Planner during public counter hours 
    (Monday  - Thursday from 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.) or 
  • Call (831) 420-5416 or
  • Email

If you've determined that your project is eligible, you'll need to contact the Building & Safety Division on the building permit process. If your project includes a lot split, please also contact the Public Works Department for information on submitting a parcel map for review and recordation. 

New Process Subject to Change

This is a new process that is subject to further interpretation by the State Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) and code amendments are expected in early 2022. When code amendments and/or additional guidance are published, the City will update criteria and procedures accordingly, therefore, the information in the guide provided below is subject to change under State law.

Other Links:

Paul Burrowes, CRS, CCEC, SFR, NHCP, LHC, REALTOR® Licensed REALTOR® with over 15 years of experience and expertise. Commits to being on time and transparent. Acts as your consultant to ensure you make the best decisions to fit your transaction at every step in the process. Negotiates towards a low stress, win-win outcome. Handles all the details for you, ensuring the hundreds of steps in your real estate transaction go smoothly. Proudly serving Silicon Valley, Santa Cruz, Monterey, and Santa Clara Counties! | DRE# 01955563 | (831) 295-5130 | |

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