Unlocking the Potential: A Handy Guide to SB-9 for San Francisco Homeowners

July 21, 2023

Unlocking the Potential: A Handy Guide to SB-9 for San Francisco Homeowners

Unlocking the Potential: A Handy Guide to SB-9 for San Francisco Homeowners

In the realm of real estate development, San Francisco has often been associated with its notorious complexities, frustrations, and lengthy periods at the city’s planning department. However, there is a glimmer of hope in the form of Senate Bill 9 (SB-9), a relatively new measure designed to simplify the permit approval process for lot splitting and or creating one or two additional units on a lot. This initiative breathes new life into real estate investments, offering homeowners an opportunity to maximize their property's potential while circumventing much of the red tape. 

With SB-9, individuals can navigate through the intricate web of CEQA analysis and planning obstacles, divide a lot into two parcels, and construct up to two units on each parcel. 

Embark on this journey with us to unravel the benefits of SB-9, empowering San Francisco homeowners to unleash the potential value of their properties and what properties qualify.

Why We Like SB-9: Benefits to Homeowners and Residents


  1. Empowers homeowners to invest and create housing in their own community: SB-9 grants homeowners the opportunity to make meaningful contributions to their community by developing additional housing units on their property. This empowerment not only fosters a sense of pride and ownership but also addresses the pressing need for more housing options in San Francisco.
  2. Provides new tools for homeowners to tap into their home equity: SB-9 offers homeowners a valuable avenue to leverage their home equity for further investment and financial flexibility. By unlocking the potential to split their lots and construct additional units, homeowners can maximize the value of their property and potentially generate rental income or create homes for extended family members.
  3. Renters and rental housing are protected: SB-9 prioritizes the protection of renters and rental housing. As new units are built, it ensures that existing rental properties and tenants are not unfairly displaced or neglected. This safeguards the diverse fabric of the community and promotes housing stability for all residents.
  4. New construction will match existing height and scale, have yards, and meet design standards: SB-9 aims to preserve the visual harmony and character of neighborhoods by mandating that new construction aligns with the height and scale of existing structures. The inclusion of yards and adherence to design standards further ensures that the new units integrate into the surrounding environment, enhancing the overall aesthetic appeal of the community.

By encompassing these advantages, SB-9 creates a win-win situation for homeowners, residents, and the broader San Francisco community, fostering a more inclusive and vibrant housing landscape.




1. Zoning Requirements

The subject lot must be located in RH-1, RH-1(D), and RH-1(S) zoning districts. If there is an existing home on the subject lot, it must have been owner-occupied or vacant for the past three (3) years. 

Check here to determine your parcel’s zoning or check with your trusted real estate agent who will be able to help you. Here’s a map of RH-1 neighborhoods.

2. Two Options

There are two options with SB-9 to use the lot split provision or to proceed with out it. 

3. Eligibility for Parcels

Parcels of any size are eligible for SB-9 development without a lot split, and although there are no minimum or maximum unit sizes required by SB-9, the City must allow each unit to be at least 800 square feet.

4. Lot Split Option

If you opt for the lot split, only parcels 2,400 sq ft or larger can be split and your design will need to assure that the smaller parcel is at least 1,200 sq ft in size.

5. Residency Affidavit

SB-9 lot split applicants must sign an affidavit stating they intend to occupy one of the housing units as their principal residence for a minimum of 3 years.


Please note that these are not the only qualifying criteria, and we highly recommend collaborating with a city planning professional or a reliable contractor to navigate the process effectively.



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