A statewide exemption ADU is an ADU of up to 800 square feet, 16 feet in height, as potentially limited by a local agency, and with 4 feet side and rear yard setbacks. ADU law requires that no lot coverage, floor area ratio, open space, or minimum lot size will preclude the construction of a statewide exemption ADU.
5 things you must know about the ADU laws
CA wants you to build housing
California has a long way to go before solving our housing crisis but they also understand where to start. It's by allowing more housing to be built. Hence the new ADU updates.
Handbook updates are to further address barriers to the development of ADUs and JADUs. CA wants every city on board but plenty is not cooperating.
Based on the data CA acknowledges; "Shortage of affordable units and the units that are available can be out of reach for many people. To address our state’s needs, homeowners can construct an ADU on their lot or convert an underutilized part of their home into a JADU. This flexibility benefits both renters and homeowners who can receive extra monthly rent income. "
State law is one thing but local application of the law is another. HOA's cannot say NO to your ADU proposal. They may and will fight you on it but state law allows it.
Size does Matter
There's a difference between what you can do and what you should do. ADUs are meant to cost you sell than building an entirely brand new home from the ground up. In order to avoid most traditional impact fees the size of your ADU should be below 750 square feet. That's the sweet spot.
"ADUs converted from existing space and JADUs shall not be considered by a local agency, special district or water corporation to be a new residential use for purposes of calculating connection fees or capacity charges for utilities, unless constructed with a new single-family dwelling. The connection fee or capacity charge shall be proportionate to the burden of the proposed ADU, based on its square footage or plumbing fixtures as compared to the primary dwelling. State ADU law does not cover monthly charge fees."
Here is where to start to engage with local utility companies and engage with the city to get a full list of fees. 5 steps to take in order to get started on your ADU project.
Streamline Approval Process
Once a "completed" application is submitted, the local jurisdiction has 60 days to decision the permit application.
Every city is calling bluff on this one. Not many are enforcing or complying with the 60 day approval requirement. Some are using the covid excuse others are confident citizens won't fight back or challenge them.
Owner occupancy requirements
At some point you had to be living on site in order to qualify for the new ADU laws. But that is not the case anymore. Every California home can have up to 2 ADUs regardless of where the property owner actually lives.
Now some cities may fight you on it but as you can see there's a fight along each step of the ADU build-out process.
Legalizing existing non permitted ADUs
This might be the best law change to come out of the December 2020 ADU updates. Local agencies must delay enforcement against a qualifying substandard ADU for 5 years! As long as the Violation is not a health and safety issue. Get that ADU legalized.
Summary of Recent Changes to Accessory Dwelling Unit Laws
In Government Code Section 65852.150, theCalifornia Legislature found and declared that, among other things, allowing accessory dwelling units (ADUs) in zones that allow single-family and multifamily uses provides additional rental housing, and is an essential component in addressing California’s housing needs. Over the years, ADU law has been revised to improve its effectiveness at creating more housing units. Changes to ADU laws effective January 1, 2021, further reduce barriers, better streamline approval processes, and expand capacity to accommodate the development of ADUs and junior accessory dwelling units (JADUs).
ADUs are a unique opportunity to address a variety of housing needs and provide affordable housing options for family members, friends, students, the elderly, in-home health care providers, people with disabilities, and others. Further, ADUs offer an opportunity to maximize and integrate housing choices within existing neighborhoods.
Within this context, the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) has prepared this guidance to assist local governments, homeowners, architects, and the general public in encouraging the development of ADUs. The following is a summary of recent legislation that amended ADU law: AB 3182 (2020) and SB 13, AB 68, AB 881, AB 587, AB 670, and AB 671 (2019). Please see Attachment 1 for the complete statutory changes for AB 3182 (2020) and SB 13, AB 68, AB 881, AB 587, AB 670, and AB 671 (2019).
AB 3182 (Ting)
Chapter 198, Statutes of 2020 builds upon recent changes to ADU law to further address barriers to the development and use of ADUs and JADUs.
This recent legislation, among other changes, addresses the following:
- States that an application for the creation of an ADU or JADU shall be deemed approved (not just subject to ministerial approval) if the local agency has not acted on the completed application within 60 days.
- Requires ministerial approval of an application for a building permit within a residential or mixed-use zone to create one ADU and one JADU per lot (not one or the other), within the proposed or existing singlefamily dwelling, if certain conditions are met.
- Provides for the rental or leasing of a separate interest ADU or JADU in a common interest development, notwithstanding governing documents that otherwise appear to prohibit renting or leasing of a unit, and without regard to the date of the governing documents.
- Provides for not less than 25 percent of the separate interest units within a common interest development be allowed as rental or leasable units
AB 68 (Ting), AB 881 (Bloom), and SB 13 (Wieckowski)
Chapter 653, Statutes of 2019 (Senate Bill 13, Section 3), Chapter 655, Statutes of 2019 (Assembly Bill 68, Section 2) and Chapter 659 (Assembly Bill 881, Section 1.5 and 2.5) build upon recent changes to ADU and JADU law and further address barriers to the development of ADUs and JADUs.
This legislation, among other changes, addresses the following:
- Prohibits local agencies from including in development standards for ADUs requirements on minimum lot size.
- Clarifies areas designated by local agencies for ADUs may be based on the adequacy of water and sewer services as well as impacts on traffic flow and public safety.
- Eliminates all owner-occupancy requirements by local agencies for ADUs approved between January 1, 2020, and January 1, 2025.
- Prohibits a local agency from establishing a maximum size of an ADU of less than 850 square feet, or 1,000 square feet if the ADU contains more than one bedroom and requires approval of a permit to build an ADU of up to 800 square feet.
- Clarifies that when ADUs are created through the conversion of a garage, carport or covered parking structure, replacement of offstreet parking spaces cannot be required by the local agency.
- Reduces the maximum ADU and JADU application review time from 120 days to 60 days.
- Clarifies that “public transit” includes various means of transportation that charge set fees, run on fixed routes and are available to the public.
- Establishes impact fee exemptions and limitations based on the size of the ADU. ADUs up to 750 square feet are exempt from impact fees; ADUs that are 750 square feet or larger may be charged impact fees but only such fees that are proportional in size (by square foot) to those for the primary dwelling unit.
- Defines an “accessory structure” to mean a structure that is accessory or incidental to a dwelling on the same lot as the ADU.
- Authorizes HCD to notify the local agency if HCD finds that their ADU ordinance is not in compliance with state law.
- Clarifies that a local agency may identify an ADU or JADU as an adequate site to satisfy Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) housing needs.
- Permits JADUs even where a local agency has not adopted an ordinance expressly authorizing them.
- Allows a permitted JADU to be constructed within the walls of the proposed or existing single-family residence and eliminates the required inclusion of an existing bedroom or an interior entry into the singlefamily residence.
- Requires, upon application and approval, a local agency to delay enforcement against a qualifying substandard ADU for five (5) years to allow the owner to correct the violation, so long as the violation is not a health and safety issue, as determined by the enforcement agency
AB 587 (Friedman), AB 670 (Friedman), and AB 671 (Friedman)
In addition to the legislation listed above, AB 587 (Chapter 657, Statutes of 2019), AB 670 (Chapter 178, Statutes of 2019), and AB 671 (Chapter 658, Statutes of 2019) also have an impact on state ADU law, particularly through Health and Safety Code Section 17980.12.
These pieces of legislation, among other changes, address the following:
- AB 587 creates a narrow exemption to the prohibition for ADUs to be sold or otherwise conveyed separately from the primary dwelling by allowing deed-restricted sales to occur if the local agency adopts an ordinance. To qualify, the primary dwelling and the ADU are to be built by a qualified nonprofit corporation whose mission is to provide units to low-income households
- AB 670 provides that covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs) that either effectively prohibit or unreasonably restrict the construction or use of an ADU or JADU on a lot zoned for single-family residential use are void and unenforceable (Civ, Code, § 4751).
- AB 671 requires local agencies’ housing elements to include a plan that incentivizes and promotes the creation of ADUs that can offer affordable rents for very low, low-, or moderate-income households and requires HCD to develop a list of state grants and financial incentives in connection with the planning, construction and operation of affordable ADUs.