Backyard Building Boom?


Will California’s new Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) laws create a backyard building boom? The State has eliminated roadblocks that could bring more affordable housing into our communities, but it may not be in a manner preferred by many homeowners. article

Many new housing laws took effect on January 1st of this year to encourage property owners to build ADUs on their property to generate affordable housing production, and in most cases they won’t need their neighbors approval to create it.

What is an ADU?

  • Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) is an attached or detached residential dwelling unit that provides complete independent living facilities for one or more persons and is located on the same parcel with a proposed or existing primary residence. The ADU shall include permanent provisions for living, sleeping, eating, cooking and bathing.
  • Junior Accessory Dwelling Unit (JADU) is an attached dwelling unit located within a single-family dwelling or accessory structure. It shall include permanent provisions for living, sleeping, eating, cooking and bathing. The unit may share sanitation facilities with the existing residence.

Effective January 1, 2020 the state relaxed the standards for creating ADUs and reduced the barriers to approval of ADUs on single-family and multi-family properties. Multi-family properties include detached condos, attached condos, and apartments. The type of ADU that can be created depends on the type of primary residence. A homeowner could end up with 3 units on one property and there is no requirement for replacement parking for a garage conversion. ADUs can be rented at market rate, or at affordable levels.

Homeowner ADU / JADU Restrictions

  • ADU and JADU may not be sold or owned separately from the primary dwelling unit
  • ADU and JADU shall not be rented for a period less than 30 consecutive days
  • JADU or primary dwelling unit associated with the JADU shall be owner occupied.

Thursday, March 5th at 5:30 pm, the Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on the ADU zoning changes and vote to update the local zoning ordinance related to ADUs. The purpose of the proposed amendments is to make the city’s standards consistent with state law. Following the Planning Commission vote, the City Council is the final approval body for this item. What you need to know about the significant changes to the zoning code can be found here in the Staff Report.


**Update 3/5/20 – Agenda Item 2 ZONING ORDINANCE AND MUNICIPAL CODE TECHNICAL UPDATE – ACCESSORY DWELLING UNITS has been taken off the March 5th Planning Commission agenda.