Friday, 26 May 2017

New California Law Eases The Way For Second Units

Written by Posted On Monday, 02 January 2017 15:41

Effective January 1, this year many Californians will find it easier to obtain local permission to construct a second unit, mother-in-law quarter, granny flat, or whatever you choose to call it. This is a result of Assembly Bill 2299 (Bloom) which was signed by the Governor September 27, 2016. It amends Section 56852.2 of the California Government Code.

The bill provides one small, but real, step in the attempts to deal with California's chronic shortage of housing stock, especially affordable housing stock. According to supporting arguments supplied by the California Apartment Association (the bill's sponsor), "California is struggling to meet the needs of its citizens when it comes to housing, especially housing that is affordable near job centers and public transportation. By promoting the developments of second units, AB 2299 will help alleviate our housing shortage, while capitalizing on limited resources. While second units can serve as much needed rental housing, they can also provide homes for college students, elderly parents, or individuals with disabilities, who need to live close to their families or teachers who can provide them support. By providing for the efficient approval of second units, you will bring units to the housing market sooner and will make them more affordable."

AB 2299, which lumps all affected units under the label "accessory dwelling units" (ADUs) sets standards for local jurisdiction ordinances governing ADUs. It defines ADUs as, "… an attached or a detached residential dwelling unit which provides complete independent living facilities for one or more persons. It shall include permanent provisions for living, sleeping, eating, cooking, and sanitation on the same parcel as the single-family dwelling is situated."

No local ordinance may be more stringent than the requirements of AB 2299. Moreover, if a local jurisdiction has no ordinance, or one that differs from the provisions of AB 2299, it is the terms of the latter that shall prevail.

An ordinance adopted pursuant to the terms of AB 2299 shall require that ADUs comply with the following:

  • The unit is not intended for sale separate from the primary residence and may be rented.
  • The lot is zoned for single-family or multifamily use.
  • The accessory dwelling unit is either attached to the existing dwelling or located with the living area of the existing dwelling or detached from the existing dwelling and located on the same lot as the existing dwelling.
  • The increased floor area of an attached accessory dwelling unit shall not exceed 50 percent of the existing living area.
  • The total area of floor space for a detached accessory dwelling unit shall not exceed 1,200square feet.
  • No setback shall be required for an existing garage that is converted to an accessory dwelling unit, and a setback of no more than five feet from the side and rear lot lines shall be required for an accessory dwelling unit that is constructed above a garage.
  • Parking requirements for accessory dwelling units shall not exceed one parking space per unit or per bedroom. These spaces may be provided as tandem parking on an existing driveway.
  • No additional standards, other than those provided in this subdivision [Code Section], shall be utilized or imposed, except that a local agency may require an applicant for a permit issued pursuant to this subdivision to be an owner-occupant.

The adoption of AB 2299 won't solve the housing shortage; but it will help.

Bob Hunt is a director of the California Association of Realtors®. He is the author of Real Estate the Ethical Way. His email address is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Bob Hunt

Bob Hunt is a former director of the National Association of Realtors and is author of the recently published book, "Real Estate the Ethical Way." A graduate of Princeton with a master's degree from UCLA in philosophy, Hunt has served as a U.S. Marine, Realtor association president in South Orange County, and director of the California Association of Realtors, and is an award-winning Realtor. Contact Bob at scbhunt@aol.com.

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