The City Council at their February 7 meeting held a public hearing and introduced a permanent ordinance to comply with new statewide housing regulations while adding in amendments to protect the neighborhood character of the community.

Senate Bill 9, also know as the California Home Act, went into effect on January 1 and aims to create up to 700,000 new smaller and naturally lower-cost homes that fit within “existing” neighborhoods. This means that communities throughout the state, including the City of Big Bear Lake, are required to allow for urban lot splits and the approval of up to four units on what is currently a single-family residential property.

The law essentially provides for two different paths to include one or more new dwelling units on an existing single family residential property. One is done through lot splits or subdivisions, and another is done through the zoning and addition of dwelling units. The city is mandated to allow for this to take place in any neighborhood that is zoned “Residential Low” or Single family Residential (R-1). As you can see from the City’s zoning map these designations make up a large portion of the City’s residential neighborhoods.

To preserve the neighborhood character of our community as well as keep residents safe the city council adopted the following amendments to the ordinance and included them with the mandated provision of meeting SB-9 requirements:

Lot splits:

  • Each lot must have direct street access
  • There must be a minimum lot width of 12 feet
  • All utilities shall be provided to serve each lot
  • All units on a lot must be under same ownership, no condominiums

Second unit and two-unit standards:

  • There must be a minimum 15 feet of front and street side setbacks
  • Maximum building height of 22 feet
  • At least two exterior siding materials
  • Other specific design standards such as roof pitch requirements, eaves, washer and dryer hookups, private open space, and pedestrian pathway
  • Maximum lot coverage per existing standards (40%)

The most important amendments were made by the council for public safety reasons. The City of Big Bear Lake is prone to wildfires. The council added that any property considered under SB-9 must require approved emergency access for all new development, as well as maintain, review, and enforce standards for fire hazard areas. This excludes several neighborhoods from SB-9 eligibility due to their proximity to the National Forest and limited access.

Formal adoption of the ordinance by the City Council is scheduled for March 7, 2022.  For more information you can access the full senate bill here, and see the amended ordinance under consideration by the city in the February 7, 2022 agenda here.