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David Kim: California Eases Restrictions on Accessory Dwelling Units

In September, Gov. Jerry Brown signed three laws, Assembly Bill 2299, Senate Bill 1069 and Assembly Bill 2406. The legislation promotes secondary dwelling units which now are referred to as accessory dwelling units (ADU).

The new mandate went into effect on Jan. 1.

Accessory dwelling units are defined as housing structures that provide complete independent living facilities and include permanent provisions for living, sleeping, eating, cooking and sanitation on the same parcel as another dwelling.

The dwellings can be constructed within, be attached to or be detached from the main dwelling unit.

The ADU mandate in theory will help defeat the affordable housing crisis in California by forcing cities to alter their ADU ordinances to be in compliance with the new mandate.

The new mandate will remove “the most egregious obstacles to building these units, will help to increase the supply of affordable housing in California and allow more people to remain in the communities they call home,” State Sen. Bob Wieckowski said in a press release.

A few of the obstacles that would be eliminated with the addition of new provisions include:

Setback requirements for certain types of ADUs, including garages or a side or rear setback ADU; prohibiting municipalities from imposing certain parking standards, and reducing water and sewer fees for certain types of ADUs.

Furthermore, ADUs of any kind are not required to provide fire sprinklers if they are not required in the primary residence.

On a local level, the recently adopted state legislation, Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), supersedes local jurisdiction regulations for Secondary Dwelling Units.

At this time, none of the cities nor the county in the South Coast have adopted any new ordinance which addresses this new state law.

That means that right now the state law is applicable to ADU projects until jurisdictions create their own ordinances which should be within the next few months.

It’s important to note, though, that projects within the Coastal Zone still fall under the permitting requirements of the Coastal Act.  

— David M. Kim is a licensed real estate broker with Village Properties and the 2017 president of the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors. Contact him at [email protected] or 805.296.0662. The opinions expressed are his own.

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