New CA Real Property Laws – Quick Summary – “End of Single-Family Zoning”

By February 22nd, 2022

Blog No 142 

February 23, 2022

By Mack W. Borgen

Author, The White Book (2022); The Writings of a Lifetime (2021); Dead Serious and Lighthearted – The Memorable Words of Modern America (Three Volumes) (2018-2019); and The Relevance of Reason – The Hard Facts and Real Data about the State of Current America (2 Volumes) (2013). The New York Review of Books and Recipient of Eight National Book Awards. For a “cleaner,” non-email presentation of this and my other blogs, go to  and click the “Blogs” tab.



Every legislative session generates new laws affecting the ownership, development, purchase and sale, management, and leasing of real property. The last several years have been no exception. Some of the new laws may be clarifying. Some may be creative and constructive. Others – and especially, in the opinion of this author – the new accessory dwelling unit and land subdivision laws border on the absurd. But they all require compliance.

The following is a short summary of some of the recently enacted, more significant new laws affecting California real estate or the development thereof. Many of these laws will be the subject of litigation which may lead to their judicial clarification or even rejection. In some instances, I have referenced both the legislation number and/or the effective date.

Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs). Subject to limited circumstances, each local agency may now adopt regulations which allow an ADU to be sold or conveyed separately from the primary residence to a qualified buyer. (AB 345).

ADUs – Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (“CC&Rs”). Any provision of any CC&Rs which unreasonably restricts the construction or use of an ADU on a lot zoned for single-family use shall be deemed void and unenforceable. (AB 1954).

CC&Rs of Senior Citizen Housing. Such CC&Rs may establish intergenerational housing that includes seniors aged 55+ along with caregivers who do not meet the minimum age requirements and transitional age youths. The primary continuing requirement is that at least 80% of the development be occupied by seniors. (SB 591).

CC&Rs – Short-Term Rentals. A homeowner’s association may prohibit short-term rentals (i.e., less than 30 days) and may adopt rental restrictions that limit the total number of rentals to 25% of the interests in the development. (AB 3182).

Landlord-Tenant Law – New Rights of Tenant to Terminate Lease. Without penalty (including with no right of the landlord to retain any security deposit), a tenant shall be permitted to terminate a lease if the tenant, a household member, or an immediate family member of the tenant was a victim of a crime that caused bodily injury or death, an act of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, human trafficking, or elder abuse.

Real Estate and Appraiser Education. Implicit bias training will now be a required component of real estate licensing courses (SB 263) (Eff. Jan. 2023). “Cultural competency” and “anti-bias” training will also be a required component of the training of real estate appraisers. In addition, it shall now be unlawful for appraisers to discriminate to members of protected groups in the availability or making of their appraisals. (AB 948).

Residential Land Development – Subdivision. This new legislation designates that which a local agency can (and cannot) require in approving the construction of two residential units on a single lot or a single-family residence and an ADU. If certain requirements are met, then no discretionary review or hearing can be conducted. (SB 9). Some critics have designated this legislation the “end of single-family zoning.” They argue that “it streamlines the process by which (an) owner of a single-family lot can subdivide that lot into two separate parcels — and to subsequently construct up to two units per parcel. In other words, (now in California) a single-family lot can now bear up to four homes, subject to certain conditions.” (Conlan, Ellinghouse). (See also, “Residential Zoning” below). In addition, and subject to only certain requirements, a housing construction proposal which contains two residential units within an area zoned for single-family housing must be considered without discretionary review or hearing.  See also, AB 725 which, as of January 2022, requires city and county general plans to meet a statutorily designated 25% level for moderate-income housing.

Residential Land Development – Mixed-Income Residential Building Construction. In the construction of mixed-income residential buildings, common areas and entrances must be made available to all units. A developer may no longer separate or isolate low-income units to a single-entrance or wing of the building. (AB 491).

Residential Zoning. A local government may now zone any parcel for up to 10 units of residential density if it is located in a transit-rich area, a job-rich area, or an urban infill site. (SB 10) (Eff. 2022).

Short-Term Residential Rentals Ordinances – Increased Maximum Penalties for Violations Thereof. The maximum fines for violating any short-term residential rental ordinance were raised substantially from $100 to $1500 (first violation), from $200 to $3,000 (second violation), and from $500 to $5,000 (third or more violations) in one year. (SB 60)

Title Insurance Companies – Unlawful Restrictive Covenants. Any title insurance involved in the transfer of real property must identify if any documents contain unlawful restrictive covenants. (Eff. July 2022). If such unlawful covenants are found, then a modification document must be recorded.

Other New Laws of Interest

Adhesion Contracts. If an adhesion contract (a take-it-or-leave-it contract) specifies a time of performance, such time must be reasonable. (SB 389).

Gas-Powered Leaf Blowers. The sale of gas-powered leaf blowers and other small, off-road engines will be banned by 2024. (AB 1346).

Gender-Neutral Retail Law. Pursuant to this legislation, all large retail stores (more than 500 employees) will be required to provide a gender-neutral area for the sale of childcare items or toys regardless of whether the products have previously been marketed for boys or girls.

Mandatory Composting by 2025. This legislation mandates the adoption of regulations relating to both individuals and businesses with a goal of having all organic waste composted by 2025. Such mandate may require compositing areas in retail centers and or require occupant lessees to hire additional services for their composting retention and removal. (SB 1383)

Minimum Wage. Increased to $15.00. This minimum wage, the highest statewide minimum wage in the United States, is a $1.00 increase from 2021. It applies to all employers with 26 or more employees.

Sources: firsttuesday Journal (January 3, 2022); Conlan, K. and Ellinghouse, M. (“New Laws Affecting Real Estate in 2022) (January 28, 2022); Neva, S., Procopio (January 7, 2021).

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