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Accessory Dwelling Units
Accessory Dwelling Units
Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), also known as second units, granny flats, or in-law units, are dwellings that exist on a lot with another house, and can be either attached or detached from the main house. ADUs are a sustainable way to add flexible, affordable, and diverse housing options with minimal impacts on existing development patterns and infrastructure.
In recognition of the importance of this housing strategy, in 2016, California adopted new laws intended to make it easier for property owners to create ADUs, mandating that all local agencies adopt an ADU ordinance that is consistent with the new requirements by January 1, 2017. The State law requires local jurisdictions permit ADUs without discretionary review, and provides guidance as to parking requirements and fees. In the instance of a local jurisdiction that has not adopted a local ordinance, the state legislation will prevail.
Good News on Expanding Financing Options for In-Law Units
In response to the passage of land use: zoning legislation (SB 1069 Wieckowski) on accessory dwelling units (ADU) in 2016, the California Housing Finance Agency recently announced that it has revised its guidelines so first-time homebuyers may apply rental income from an ADU toward loan qualification. The move will help more low and middle income families qualify for their first home and codify the role ADUs can play in addressing the state’s massive housing shortage.
Legislative Updates/Briefing Materials:
- State Law — As Chaptered
- California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) Accessory Dwelling Unit Memorandum (December 2016).
- HCD December 2016 Memo summarizing recent changes in ADU and JADU legislation, with sample ordinances for local jurisdictions
- Goldfarb and Lipman Webinar provided for 21 Elements briefing
Model Ordinances and Resources:
- 21 Elements ADU Implementation Guidance and Checklist
- City of Santa Cruz ADU Policy: Includes waivers for low-income households and a manual for homeowners.
- Rewarding ADU Inclusion in Residential Development Projects: Morgan Hill's Residential Development Growth Process gives additional points to developers competing for allotments if they provide 15% of total units with secondary units.
- Junior ADUs: The City of Novato developed standards for "Junior" ADUs, which are created by repurposing spare bedrooms into private apartments.