Senate Bill 9 Development

What is California Senate Bill 9 (SB9) and why are we doing it?

SB 9 is State legislation that was signed into law on September 16, 2021, and became effective on January 1, 2022. SB 9 mandates cities and counties to ministerially consider and approve projects consisting of two primary (dwelling) units on a lot zoned for single dwelling units and/or the subdivision of a single dwelling zoned lot into two parcels (Urban Lot Split), resulting in up to two units on each resulting lot. Although SB9 by and large overrides discretionary local subdivision and development standards, SB 9 does preserve some local authority to enact objective zoning regulations when implementing SB 9.  SB 9 does contain location eligibility criteria that addresses public health and public resource constraints and preserves the city’s ability to determine where SB 9 can be applied. For example, the proposed ordinance specifies that proposed development and subdivisions allowed by SB 9 will not be eligible in areas of the City such as the Coastal Bluff Overly Zone, the Bluff, Slope and Canyon Overlay Zone, Lagoon Overlay Zone, Open Space Overlay Zone, Historic Preservation Overlay, Beach Overlay Zone, areas of Special Flood Hazard, and properties that are located within the Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zone that do not have at least two emergency evacuation routes.

State regulations allow cities to only apply objective standards to SB 9 development and eliminate all potential for discretionary review, such as Del Mar’s Design Review Permit process. Therefore, the City has prepared a draft ordinance to implement SB 9 in order to mitigate for potential impacts from State mandated development and to maintain the community character for existing single-dwelling unit zoned (R1) neighborhoods. 

Additionally, because the City is entirely within the Coastal Zone, proposed development is subject to the Coastal Act and must comply with the City’s adopted Local Coastal Program. Therefore, any proposed SB 9 development requires the processing of a ministerial Coastal Development Permit. In order to make the findings for a Coastal Development Permit, an ordinance and a Local Coastal Program Amendment that is certified by the California Coastal Commission is required to ensure consistency with the City’s Local Coastal Program. Furthermore, if the City adopts an ordinance, staff is proposing the City Council consider prohibiting ADU construction when an owner chooses to develop under SB 9 Urban Lot Split regulations. If the City does not adopt an ordinance, per State law, the City is required to allow the development of ADUs with SB 9 with an Urban Lot Split.

SB 9 Fact Sheet

For more detailed information regarding the development standards, background of the drafting of the Ordinance, and other frequently asked questions, please review the SB 9 Fact Sheet (PDF).

Is my property eligible for SB 9?

SB 9 is permitted on properties located within a single dwelling unit zone, or R1 zone. To ensure that no adverse impacts occur to public health and safety, coastal resources, or impede public access to coastal resources and recreation, there are certain areas within the City that are proposed to be excluded from SB 9 development including the Coastal Bluff Overlay Zone, Bluff, Slope and Canyon Overlay Zone, Lagoon Overlay Zone, Open Space Overlay Zone, Historic Preservation Overlay Zone, Beach Overlay Zone, areas within the Special Flood Hazard Area, and properties within the Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zone that do not have at least two emergency evacuation routes. A map (PDF) is available for public review that identifies eligible lots within the City limits. 

Ordinance Timeline

Below is the Notice of Availability and the draft implementation Ordinance and Objective Design Standards which were reviewed by the Planning Commission at the March 14, 2023, public hearing. The review of the Ordinance by the Planning Commission was continued to the May 9, 2023, meeting in order for Staff to address Planning Commissioner comments/questions and to provide additional opportunity for public input.

. The Notice of Availability and the revised draft Ordinance and Objective Design Standards that were reviewed at the May 9, 2023, Planning Commission meeting are also provided below for public review.  At the Planning Commission hearing on May 9, 2023, the Commission considered the revised draft regulations and public input.  The public input, primarily provided in written form, was generally supportive of the regulatory standards and suggested several modifications. The Commissioners were in general agreement with the revised Ordinance and were able to provide a recommendation that the City Council adopt the Ordinance; however, it was aldo recommended that the implementation of SB 9 regulations is an opportunity to provide for affordable housing production and the regulations should require all or some of the potential units be deed restricted to moderate or lower income households.  

On June 5, 2023, the City Council conducted a public hearing and introduced the Ordinance amending the Del Mar Municipal Code (A22-001), Zoning Ordinance (ZA22-003), and certified Local Coastal Program (LCPA22-003) to establish procedures, objective development standards, and objective design standards to regulate Two Unit Residential Development and Urban Lot Split projects in accordance with California Senate Bill 9 (SB 9). Adoption of the Ordinance will add Del Mar Municipal Code (DMMC) Chapter 30.93 to establish procedures and regulations for “Two Unit Development” subject to SB 9, Chapter, 24.66 to guide preparation and processing of “Urban Lot Split” subdivisions, and Chapter, 23.07 setting forth Objective Design Standards for both Two Unit Developments and Urban Lot Splits.  The City Council public notice for the June 5, 2023, public hearing is provided below.

During the public hearing, the City Council requested specific clarifying amendments that were read into the public record for minor revisions to the Ordinance as introduced.   The revisions to the ordinance included additional Objective Design Standards to address neighborhood compatibility and light control, as well as needed language regarding the Ordinance’s date of effectiveness upon LCPA certification by the Coastal Commission.   Upon introducing the Ordinance, the City Council directed staff to place the Ordinance on its June 19, 2023, meeting agenda for second reading and adoption.

Staff Contact

Public participation during the review phase of the draft implementation Ordinance is highly encouraged. For questions and/or comments, please contact Matt Bator, Principal Planner, at or 858-755-9313 ext. 1158.