Much Ado about California ADU’s

Posted on Dec 12, 2022

by Vincent Bindi – Far from nothing… Recent California legislations have made Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU’s) a big deal in California. Such legislation is as follows; SB9, Assembly Bill (AB) 345, Senate Bill 1069, Senate Bill 2299, and others. The bottom line is that this new legislation is designed to try to help alleviate the growing problem of the high cost of real estate in California. These new ADU laws should help in that regard, for the cost of land and limited supply inventory have always been an issue in coastal California cities and towns.

There are a lot of legal technicalities pertaining to this new legislation, but I will try to boil it down to basic facts as outlined below;

ADU Definition – An Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) is either an Attached or Detached unit that can be added to an existing residential lot that has an existing dwelling unit (ie; single family home). This ADU addition can have a Kitchen and a bathroom and other rooms. The ADU can be added to a vacant portion of the existing Lot, or the existing attached or detached garage can be converted to an ADU.

Expedited Approvals – Local Zoning and Building City or County jurisdictions are required to process new applications within 60 days of their submission.

Fees Contained – Local Zoning and Building City or County jurisdictions are also required to limit permit fees. These agencies cannot treat ADU’s as new residential construction when evaluating – calculating utility fees, connection fees, and more

Parking – If a Garage is converted to an ADU, local Zoning and Building City or County jurisdictions cannot require that this off-street parking be replaced on the existing property.

Setbacks – Setback requirements imposed by local Zoning and Building City or County agencies and Homeowners Associations will be reduced to “no more that 4 feet from the Side and Rear Lot lines. Many of these agencies currently require a 10 to 20 foot Rear setback and a 5 to 10 foot Side setback.

There are other pertinent details that may be important if one is planning on adding an ADU, so please consult an expert in the filed before you proceed. As you can imagine, many coastal close higher priced California Cities are trying to legally fight some of this ADU legislation. The jury is still out (pardon the pun) as tot he success these Cities may have. But before you begin your ADU project, you may want to get a temperature reading of where you City/County agency stands on this new legislation, so you are not trapped in delays as the City is wrestling with the State.