Real Estate Upsizing December 10, 2021

Everything You Need to Know About Settling Into Your New Scotts Valley Home

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Whether you’ve recently relocated from another city or state or you’ve lived in the Scotts Valley area for many years, it can take some time for a new residence to truly feel like home. After all, moving often means adjusting to a new home and neighborhood — and finding new places to shop, grab a coffee, work out, and see a doctor. But with these 11 tips and resources from Realtor Paul Burrowes of David Lyng Real Estate, settling into your new Scotts Valley home will be a breeze!

Transfer Utilities, Update DMV Documents, and More

Setting up utilities and changing your address are a big part of buying and moving into a new home. Here are some resources to take the stress out of finding utility providers, DMV offices, and local home improvement pros.

  • Research local utility providers and contact them to set up utility services in your new home.
  • Locate nearby DMV offices so you can update the address on your driver’s license and vehicle registration credentials. In California, you must change the address on your driver’s license or ID card within 10 days of moving to a new home.
  • As an alternative to changing your address in person, you can notify the DMV online or by mail.
  • Make improvements and upgrades to your new home, if necessary.

Get to Know Scotts Valley

After you’ve completed the most pressing items on your moving checklist, you can finally get to know the Scotts Valley area.

  • Search for a new family medicine doctor. Pay attention to things such as patient experiences, accepted insurance coverage, location, education, and specialties.
  • Look for restaurants, bars, coffee shops, cafes, bakeries, and creameries.
  • Visit Mindbody to find top-rated yoga and pilates studios, fitness centers, dance clubs, and wellness spas.

Build a Life in Scotts Valley

Here are some resources to help you land a job, further your education, or start your own Scotts Valley business.

Buying a new house is an exciting time for many homeowners, but the process of moving and settling in can be incredibly stressful. These resources, however, will help to reduce the stress of moving into a new home, getting to know an unfamiliar area, and building a life in Scotts Valley. Keep this list at your disposal and you’ll have everything you need to settle into your new Scotts Valley residence!

With his more than 15 years of real estate experience, Realtor Paul Burrowes of David Lyng Real Estate is the agent you need by your side during your next housing search. Contact Paul by email or at 831-295-5130.

Real Estate Development December 3, 2021

How to use Senate Bill 9 (SB9) by Alfred Twu

Senate Bill 9 is a 2021 California state law that allows up to 4 homes in most single-family zones, regardless of local zoning. You can use SB9 to split your lot, add a 2nd home to a lot, or both (split lot and have 2 homes on each lot for a total of 4 homes).

Here’s how you can build more homes once SB9 takes effect on Jan 1, 2022.

Why use SB9?

Earn money. Even if you don’t have the cash to build new homes yourself, you can sell your backyard to a builder or a future homeowner. Take a look at how much empty lots in your neighborhood sell for – it’s likely to be hundreds of thousands to over a million dollars.

Do your part to solve California’s housing crisis. Maybe you have friends or family members that want a home but can’t afford one due to California’s high land costs. Homeownership is much more affordable if they’re only paying for a new building.

examples of property using SB9

1. Check if you’re eligible:

___ Property is zoned by the city or county for only 1 home. (if you want to subdivide a multi-family lot, use AB803)

___ Property is located in an existing urbanized area or urban cluster. See 2010 Census maps and 2020 Census additions. This includes most suburbs.

___ Not prime farmland or farmland of statewide importance, wetlands, conservation land, habitat for a protected species.

___ Not on a hazardous waste site, earthquake fault zone, 100-year floodplain or floodway.

___ Not a historic landmark or in a historic district.

___ Ellis Act was not used to evict tenants on any buildings on the property within the last 15 years.

___ If splitting the lot, you need to plan to live in either your existing house or one of the new homes for the next 3 years. This rule does not apply to land owned by community land trusts.

Special Conditions

Fire Zones: Cannot use SB9 on land within a very high fire hazard severity zone, unless the development complies with state mitigation requirements.

Rental Housing: SB9 housing cannot demolish or alter housing that currently has a tenant or has previously had a tenant in the last 3 years. You cannot remove more than 25% of the exterior walls of such a building either, even if the rental unit is not altered. Affordable housing or rent controlled buildings on the property also cannot be demolished.

ADUs: If you already have one or more Accessory Dwelling Units on your property, you can still add a house to your lot if you don’t split the lot. However, ADUs count towards the maximum number of 2 homes per lot for split lots.

Septic Systems: If your property is not connected to a sewer system, the city or county may require a percolation test before allowing additional homes.

One lot split only: Lots created by a SB9 lot split cannot be further divided. Owners also cannot use SB9 to split adjacent lots.

No AirBNB’s: Homes created by SB9 can be sold or rented. However, if rented, the minimum rental is 31 days.

For full details see the bill text and 8/28/21 bill analysis

2. Submit plans to city. Local regulations may require you to hire an architect. The city is required to approve SB9 projects at the

staff level, without having to hold a public hearing.

3. Sell and/or build. Not interested in managing the construction yourself? You can split the lot and sell the new lot without having to build on it.

In areas not near frequent transit or carshare, cities may require parking. However, lots in these areas are usually larger. As a workaround, you can rent your driveway to a carshare company.

Even if you can’t split the lot due to the existing house taking up most of the land, you can still build a 2nd home now… and split the lot later.

Regular dwelling unit, Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU), or Junior ADU?

There are differences in permit fees, maximum size of the home, yard requirements, and other regulations, depending on how you classify the units when applying for a permit.

Regular Dwelling Units (houses and duplexes)

– Size and height limited only by existing zoning. Regulations may limit the size, but must allow exemptions if there’s no other way to have two 800 square foot units on a lot.

– Yard requirements defined by existing zoning, however, may reduce side and rear yards to 4 feet if no other way to fit two 800 square foot units.

– No parking required if within 1/2 mile of a major transit stop (rail, ferry, or Bus Rapid Transit), or 1/2 mile from a bus line with service at least every 15 minutes during peak hours, or within 1 block of carshare. Up to 1 parking space required per unit elsewhere.

– Restrictions apply on where you can build one. HOAs can also ban additional dwelling units.

– Each home can be sold separately.

ADUs & Junior ADUs

– Exempt from other impact fees if less than 750 square feet.

– Exempt from school fees if less than 500 square feet.

– Can be built even if Homeowner Association rules don’t allow it, state law overrides HOA rules for ADUs.

– Cannot be sold separately, unless it’s an ADU built by a nonprofit and reserved for low-income homeowners. JADUs can never be sold separately.

– Can be built in some places that SB9 units cannot be built, such as historic districts.


– Can be attached to house or a detached structure in the yard.

– No size limit, utility fees, or parking requirements if converted from space in an existing building.

– For new buildings, city can limit size to 800 square feet, and height to 16 feet. Otherwise the max size is 1,200 square feet for a detached

ADU, or 50% of the area of the house / 800 square feet (whichever is more) for an attached ADU. Some cities may allow more.

– For new buildings, no parking required if within a 1/2 mile of any public transit, or within 1 block of carshare, or in a historic district, or in a parking permit district that does not offer permits to ADUs. Up to 1 parking space required per ADU elsewhere.

Junior ADUs

– Max size: 500 square feet.

– Must be in same building as the main house. If adding a JADU to an existing house, must be built by carving out space from the house. A 150 square foot addition is allowed if needed to provide an entrance.

– Can share bathroom with main house.

– Kitchen is optional, unless city requires it.

– City can require that the owner live on the property, either in the JADU or another home on the lot.

Further reading: State of California Housing and Community Development Department’s ADU Handbook at: research/docs/adu_december_2020_handbook.pdf

* To build a duplex and two detached ADUs, the duplex must be completed before a permit can be obtained for the ADUs.

Frequently Asked Questions

For Homeowners

Q: Can I rent out a home built using SB9?

A: Yes, as long as it is to a regular tenant. Short term rentals (30 days or less) are not allowed.

Q: Can I sell a home built using SB9?

A: Yes. Note that if you have more than 1 house on a lot, it will need to be sold as part of a duplex (though each home in a duplex can have a different owner), instead of a standalone house with its own land.

Q: Can I sell an Accessory Dwelling Unit using SB9?

A: Answer to this question is pending clarification from bill author.

Q: My property is zoned for 2 units. Can I use SB9?

A: No. However, you can use existing local zoning to build 2 homes and AB68 to build 2 Accessory Dwelling Units, for a total of 4 homes. Or, you can subdivide the lot using AB803, and have a house, ADU, and Junior ADU on each lot, for a total of 6 homes.

Q: I live in a Homeowners Association. Can I use SB9?

A: Depends on the HOA rules. SB9 overrides local zoning only. However, even if your HOA does not let you use SB9, you can still build an Accessory Dwelling Unit and a JADU using AB670.

Q: Can I use SB9 to split off a front or side yard?

A: Yes.

Q: My lot is not near existing transit or carshare. Can I meet the carshare requirement by renting out my driveway to a carshare company?

A: Yes.

Q: My neighborhood uses point-to-point carshare without fixed locations. Does that count as having carshare within a block?

A: Answer to this question is pending clarification from bill author.

Q: Can I list my car on a peer-to-peer carshare site to meet the carshare requirement?

A: Answer to this question is pending clarification from bill author.

Q: I am interested in doing a lot split and selling my yard. Who should I talk to?

A: Talk with a Realtor about listing your yard as a lot for sale. You may also want to hire an architect to analyze what is buildable.

Q: If I do a SB9 lot split, does the property get automatically re-assessed for property tax purposes?

A: No. Re-assessment only happens when there’s a new owner or new construction. If you sell your backyard to someone else, they will pay property taxes based on their purchase price. You might be able to request a downward reassessment of your house (and get a savings on future property taxes) if it’s now worth less with a smaller yard than its current assessed value.

For Future Homeowners

Q: I want to buy an existing vacant lot and build a custom home. Can I use SB9?

A: Yes. You can build 2 homes right away. If you want to split a lot using SB9 to build homes 3 & 4, you will need to first move in to one of the first two homes, and promise to live there for 3 years.

Q: I am interested in buying a lot split to build a home? Who should I talk to?

A: While SB9 is new, the number of lot splits on the market will be limited. Instead, I would recommend starting with friends or family members who own a house but have extra yard space available.

For Tenants & Landlords

Q: Can a landlord use SB9?

A: Landlords can use SB9 to add a 2nd home to a lot that contains a house, as long as the lot is in single-family zoning. A landlord can also use SB9 to split a lot and add a 3rd & 4th unit, if they plan to live on the property for at least 3 years. A landlord cannot use SB9 to demolish or modify a tenant-occupied unit.

Q: Can I use SB9 and also build Accessory Dwelling Units?

A: No, unless the city specifically allows that. Note that under state ADU laws, it is possible to have 3 homes – the main house, a regular ADU, and a Junior ADU. See here for more information.

For Developers

Q: Can a developer use SB9 on a regular lot?

A: Developers can use SB9 to build 2 homes on a single family lot, but cannot use the lot split part of SB9, unless they plan to live in one of the homes. One workaround may be to leave half the yard vacant, and buy back the yard after selling the property to a homeowner.

Q: Can a developer use SB9 to buy a yard from a homeowner?

A: Yes, as long as the homeowner is planning to live on site for the next 3 years. However, the same developer cannot use SB9 to split adjacent lots.

For Architects

Q: What parts of local zoning does SB9 override?

A: The following:

– Density. Can have up to 2 homes per lot, for a total of 4 homes on 2 lots.

– Minimum lot size. Note that the new lot created using a SB9 lot split must contain 40-60% of the original lot. Unless local law allows otherwise, both newly created parcels must be no smaller than 1,200 square feet.

– Parking. None required if within 1 block of carshare, 1/2 mile of a Major Transit Stop (rail, ferry with bus or rail connection) or High Quality Transit Corridor (bus route with service of at least 1 bus every 15 minutes during peak commute hours). Elsewhere, the max parking a city can require is 1 space per unit.

– Yard requirements and other objective zoning or design standards that would have the effect of physically precluding the construction of up to two units or that would physically preclude either of the two units from being at least 800 square feet in floor area. Note that a a local agency may still require a setback of up to four feet from the side and rear lot lines.

Q: The existing lot and/or building is non-conforming to zoning. Can SB9 still be used?

A: Yes. Furthermore, if you are replacing a building that has a nonconforming setback, the new building can keep the same nonconforming setback as long as it’s in the same location as the old building.

Q: How does SB9 work with extra-large lots?

A: If a lot is large enough for a regular subdivision (for example, a 10,000 square foot lot in a zone that has a 5,000 square foot minimum lot size), you can first divide it using existing subdivision law. Then each of the lots can be SB9’d into two lots each – but only if it’s done by two different owners.

Q: Are there any restrictions on the shape of the lots in a lot split?

A: Cities can require that both lots have at least one edge adjacent to the street, but other than the rule that the smaller lot has to have at least 40% of the land of the original lot, odd-shaped lots are allowed.

Q: Can a mobile or manufactured home be used for any of the buildings?

A: Yes.


Stacked Duplex

This is a stacked duplex with two 762 square foot two-bedroom homes that will fit in the back of most lots. The floor plan is designed so that the first floor unit can be wheelchair accessible.

Special thanks to Alfred Twu for the information provided in the article, he can be reached at

Please feel free to contact me for additional details and information for Santa Cruz County Real Estate.  Paul Burrowes  831-295-5130.

Real Estate Upsizing December 3, 2021

Campaign launches for Santa Cruz empty homes tax – Overview

Community members in Santa Cruz are working to introduce an empty homes tax to voters in 2022. The tax aims to create a way to increase the amount of affordable housing available in Santa Cruz. It will do so by using tax revenue to build a fund dedicated to the development of affordable housing within the city.

On Oct. 7, the group known as the “Yes On Empty Home Tax Santa Cruz” committee filed a notice of intent to launch a ballot measure to tax vacant properties in the city of Santa Cruz. It’s a tactic that’s been approved by voters and established recently in other high-priced West Coast cities, such as Oakland and Vancouver, British Columbia.

If you live on your property, you won’t be subject to the tax. Publicly owned parcels and undeveloped parcels won’t be subject to the tax. If your property has 6 or less dwelling units and one of them is occupied for 120 days a year you won’t be subject to the tax.  If your property has 7 or more units each unit will be treated separately and will need to be occupied for 120 days a calendar to avoid paying the tax.  Property owners can live on their property, rent it or if it is only lived in occasionally the owner would pay the tax to support community needs associated with affordable housing for the lowest income levels.  A condominium or townhome under separate ownership would need to be occupied for 120 days a calendar year to avoid paying the tax. The funds raised will be sequestered in a dedicated fund used to create permanently deed restricted low, very low and extremely low-income housing units. The tax rate is set at $6,000 for empty Residential and $3,000 for empty Condominium or Townhomes and $3000 for empty units on parcels with 7 or more residential units.

Santa Cruz has a vacancy rate of 9.5%, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, which totals about 2,283 homes. If just 500 homes paid the empty home tax, it would raise around $3 million for the city. Additionally, if between 1,500 and 2,000 homes paid the tax, it would raise $6 million to $8 million.

The proposed tax defines an empty home as a place of residence that is not occupied for a minimum of 120 days a year. The home can be occupied by the owner or rented out to others. Homeowners with in-law units on their property won’t have to worry if the unit is designated for out-of-town guests. The new tax does not apply to accessory dwelling units as long as the main house is occupied for more than 120 days.

The tax will be enforced through city audits. Each year, property owners will have to produce documents that prove the unit is occupied. They then can be randomly audited, which will search records up to three years. If the audit finds the unit is in fact unoccupied, then the owner will be subject to a fine, including the cost of the audit. They will also be audited for the next two years.

You can live in your property for at least 120 days a year, you can rent it out for that time, or you can choose to hold your property empty — which is obviously a choice for that property owner — they can contribute to funding that critical need of affordable housing that we have in Santa Cruz.

The state of housing in Santa Cruz drove community members to action. In order for a home to be affordable, the residents need to be paying no more than 30% of their income on rent or mortgage, which would classify them as rent burdened. Roughly 70% of Santa Cruz residents are considered rent burdened, according to a study conducted by UC Santa Cruz Chair of Sociology Miriam Greenberg. The housing crisis is partially caused by a disparity in growing home prices and stunted rises in wages within the city, the study found. The average cost of rent rose 40% between 2013 and 2017. In that same four-year timespan, wages only rose .8%.  From those findings and discussions, some of the research led to a report by UC Santa Cruz professors Miriam Greenberg and Steven McKay, called “No Place Like Home,” which found Santa Cruz to be the least affordable small city in the country.

If the Yes on the Empty Homes Tax group receives the necessary signatures, then it will make the regular election ballot in November of 2022 alongside the choices for open City Council and county supervisor seats, pending ballot approval from the City Council. However, the council must approve the measure if the necessary signatures are presented.

Oakland voters approved Measure W, the city’s vacant property tax, in November 2018, which established an annual tax of $3,000-$6,000 on properties vacant for more than 50 days per year. Vancouver implemented its vacancy tax at the start of this year, with properties vacant for more than six months annually subject to a tax of 1.25% of the property’s 2020 assessed taxable value.

As policymakers struggle to control an affordable housing crunch, officials in some of the world’s biggest cities have their sights set on a tactic: taxing the empty homes of the rich.  Los Angeles is planning to put a vacant homes tax on the ballot for 2022, in the face of a mounting homelessness crisis. Hong Kong officials are considering taxing condo developers to deter them from hoarding new units. Ireland is exploring its options. Barcelona has gone as far as threatening to seize landlords’ empty apartments — paying half of market value — and convert the units into affordable rentals. Paris tripled its tax on second homes in 2017.

Perhaps the biggest question mark looming is how the tax will be enforced. The measure would require homeowners to self-report if their property is vacant or occupied, and the city will do a random audit of tax-eligible properties yearly. While the measure would reimburse the expenses the city incurs for the program up to a cap of 15% of the revenue.  Funding is only part of the issue when it comes to building low-income housing. Finding the land to build these projects, in a city that is largely built out, and making sure the money doesn’t sit in a fund are other issues.

The Santa Cruz Association of Realtors Director Victor Gomez, who says this tax unfairly penalizes homeowners, and has too many uncertainties to be implemented effectively, we are working with the National Association of Realtors who will fund a research group to petition the new law.  This is another law where community members are expected to turn in their neighbors.

As a member of the Santa Cruz Association of Realtors Local Government Relations Committee (LGR) we are discussing ways to make this fair to property owners that is not a violation of private property rights.  Taxing someone for not making their land or real estate available for use seems unfair and contradictory.  No owner should be taxed into selling their property or occupying it.  An option for the housing solution could be to incentivize homeowners to build small ADU’s to potentially supply additional housing.

Please feel free to contact me for additional details and information for Santa Cruz Real Estate.  Paul Burrowes  831-295-5130.