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Rules and New Legislation for ADUs

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State and local regulations are making it even easier for homeowners to build ADUs now. The four most recent legislative bills taking effect January 1, 2020:

•    Allowing ADUs to be built concurrently with a single-family home

•    Expanding areas where ADUs can be built to include all zoning districts that allow single-family and multi-family uses;
•    Modifying fees from utilities, such as special districts and water corporations. 
•    Reducing parking requirements.

•    Homeowner occupancy not required through 2025.  4’ side and rear yard setbacks.

•    Minimum detached size allowed is 1,000 sq ft.  Junior ADU + detached ADU allowed.

•    Impact fees eliminated on 749 sq ft or less.  Reduced on larger sizes.

•    Homeowner Associations must allow ADUs

•    60 day approval of ADU applications for cities and counties

•    Two detached ADUs allowed in multi-family zoned properties

•    Water district and sanitation district capacity fees eliminated

Many local cities in Southern California are also making the process more streamlined by offering quicker permitting, no parking requirements, and reduced fees.  Under state law, the size of an ADU attached to the main house is limited to a maximum of 1,200 square feet or half the size of the existing residence, whichever is smaller. Detached units can’t be larger than 1,200 square feet.

ADUs are a secondary housing unit with completely independent living facilities, including a kitchen, bathroom and bedroom. These units can be attached to or detached from the primary residence. Sometimes they are called granny flats, in-law suites, backyard cottages, secondary units or income generating units.

What is an ADU?

Why build an ADU?

California cities are looking for ways to bring new housing units online quickly and affordably. Compared with new single-family homes and large multi-family housing projects, ADUs are affordable to build because their construction does not require paying for land or building structured parking or elevators. In addition, ADUs are typically built as one- or two-story wood frame dwellings that do not require major new infrastructure upgrades, thus reducing overall construction costs. ADUs also offer benefits to residents, such as supplemental income from unit rent and the ability to house members of the extended family.

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